David Kirkpatrick

June 18, 2010

A fish story

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:52 pm

Very fishy behavior from that font of fail that is Bank of America

From the link:

Dr. Alan Schroit was shocked when he arrived at his Galveston, Texas, vacation house only to find a seizure notice from Bank of America plastered on his padlocked front door.And that wasn’t the only nasty surprise.

Schroit summoned the police to get into his own home. When he did, he was met with the “overpowering putrid smell” of 75 pounds of rotten fish, according to court documents.

He had recently gone fishing and was storing his copious catch for a family gathering. But the bank’s foreclosure agent had shut off the home’s power.

The kicker: Schroit doesn’t have a mortgage with Bank of America, or with any bank for that matter. He owns the house free and clear!

Bank of America has been accused of several wrongful lockouts in recent months, many of which have resulted in lawsuits against the company.

“We sincerely apologize to the homeowners affected for the confusion and stress these errors have caused,” said Bank of America spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens. “We are working aggressively to improve our process through formal training, enhanced checklists and improved communication.”

Schroit has since reached an undisclosed settlement with the bank according to his attorney. Court documents show that Schroit wanted compensation that would be “adequate to deter BOA’s arrogance.”

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=bank+of+america&iid=8533012″ src=”http://view1.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/8533012/customer-uses-bank-america/customer-uses-bank-america.jpg?size=500&imageId=8533012″ width=”500″ height=”289″ /]

Want to read more BoA fail from the same link? Here’s a bird tale to join the above fish story.

November 25, 2009

Almost a quarter of all mortgages under the water line

Ouch. This economy just doesn’t look or feel any better right now. I just had a major project for this year — a project on standby for around five months — move into the “not likely to happen” file. At least I’m ahead of the game on my mortgage.

From the link:

In a sign that more foreclosures could be on the horizon, 23% of people with mortgages owe more than their home is worth, according to a report released Tuesday.

Almost 10.7 million U.S. mortgages were “underwater” as of September, said research firm First American CoreLogic.

Another 2.3 million homeowners are within 5% of negative territory, the report said. The two figures combined comprise almost 28% of all residential properties with mortgages.

Negative equity, also called an “underwater” or “upside down” mortgage, has become more common as home values plummet. The report is closely watched because borrowers who are underwater are more likely to be foreclosed.

September 16, 2009

Averting a blow to the economy

Maybe. It’s rarely discussed, but there is a major economic crisis coming down the pipe in 2012 or so in the form of commercial real estate paper.

Essentially in the years right before last year’s meltdown most everyone in large-scale commercial real estate was doing what I’ve heard described by a player in the field as “bad deals.” That person said everyone knew the deals were bad (as in not economically feasible unless conditions remained optimal — we all know that’s no longer the case), but did them anyway because that was the only way to continue doing business in the mid- to late-2000s.

Looks like the IRS is making proactive moves to try and take some of the brunt out of this looming economic event.

From the link:

The IRS issued new rules Tuesday designed to make it easier to refinance somecommercial real estate loans in an effort to curb the number of defaults.

The rules would allow commercial loans that are part of investment pools known as Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits, or REMICs, to be refinanced without triggering tax penalties for investors.

The investment pools were designed to encourage mortgage-backed securities by offering tax benefits not typically available through other investment vehicles. However, under the old rules, investors could have lost those benefits if loans in the portfolio were restructured.

The new regulations come as Wall Street braces for a wave of defaults on commercial real estate loans. More than 90 U.S. banks have already failed this year. Hundreds more banks are expected to fail in the next few years largely because of souring loans for commercial real estate.

“These changes will affect lenders, borrowers, servicers, and sponsors of securitizations of mortgages in REMICs,” the new regulation says.

September 1, 2009

IRS to use mortgage data to track down cheaters

The IRS has really been stepping up enforcement over the last couple of years. Sometimes (rarely really) you get the warm and fuzzy IRS, other times you get the buzzsaw.

I do agree with the point made below on the odd timing of this potential tax cheat catching tool.

From the link:

The Internal Revenue Service might scrutinize mortgage interest data more closely to help catch tax cheats, after prompting from an IRS auditor.

The tax collector said it will study whether it should make greater use of mortgage interest data provided to the IRS by banks, to target audits against individuals who do not file tax returns, according to a letter released Monday by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

However, a stepped-up IRS focus on homeowners whose reported income falls below their mortgage interest obligations could attract criticism at a time when many have fallen behind on mortgage payments.

August 20, 2009

More bad housing news

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 9:26 am

Any economic recovery is still a long ways from Main Street. The worst news from this mortgage report is a third of the new foreclosures were on prime fixed loans.

From the link:

An industry group says a record of more than 13 percent of American homeowners with a mortgage are either behind on their payments or in foreclosure as the recession throws more people out of work.

August 13, 2009

Foreclosures still on rise

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:54 pm

No good news from the housing sector. This is one area where there will be dissonance between the facts on the ground affecting real people and the economic pundits who tout the ongoing (real, but very slow) recovery from the financial crisis.

From the link:

The number of U.S. households on the verge of losing their homes rose 7 percent from June to July, as the escalating foreclosure crisis continued to outpace government efforts to limit the damage.

Foreclosure filings were up 32 percent from the same month last year, RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday. More than 360,000 households, or one in every 355 homes, received a foreclosure-related notice, such as a notice of default or trustee’s sale. That’s the highest monthly level since the foreclosure-listing firm began publishing the data more than four years ago.

Banks repossessed more than 87,000 homes in July, up from about 79,000 homes a month earlier.

April 29, 2009

Foreclosure prevention plan gets a little bigger

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:57 pm

With all the talk about the auto industry and controversy over TARP and harping about financial bailouts recipient bonuses, et. al., Main Street gets little ink spilled its direction.

Here’s news on an expansion of the Obama administration’s foreclosure prevention plan.

From the link:

Treasury broadens the President’s home-mortgage plan to address second liens. But Congress may need to act to protect banks from lawsuits

The U.S. Treasury Dept. broadened the Obama Administration’s foreclosure-prevention program on Apr. 28 in a bid to resolve a persistent obstacle to cleaning up problem mortgages. But some financial officials say the fledgling program’s success still hinges on controversial legislation pending in Congress, which is also expected to take up another contentious bill that would allow bankruptcy judges to reduce the principal owed on a home.

March 16, 2009

“Paper” — a work of short fiction, redux

Filed under: Arts, Business, Media — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:26 pm

I first ran this short-short of mine on the blog last January (1/30/08 to be exact) in its very earliest days.

With the financial crisis in full boil, crazy news from the business world (AIG anyone?) and a recession that very possibly could morph into a full-blown depression, I think this cautionary tale is still appropriate.

Following is a piece of short fiction. I originally posted this to my website davidkirkpatrick.com January 17, 2002.

Here’s how I introduced the story then:

“Paper” was written after the stumble, but before the fall of the new economy. Its theme fits nicely with today’s cautionary stock market news, headlined by Enron’s troubles.

What is interesting is how this short bit of dialog was written to reflect the tech crash and how many people ended up overextended with paper, rather than liquid, assets. In some ways it’s even more apropos today with the ongoing mortgage crisis.

Without further adieu, the story …

***

Paper

By David Kirkpatrick

“You making any money on the market?” A. asked.

“Nothing spectacular. I’m in for the long haul. I make it a personal rule to not even take a peek anytime the Dow drops over 200 points. How about yourself?”

“Took an absolute bath at the end of last week, but it did get me to move a large chunk out of techs. I’m starting to see the value in the long haul myself,” said A. He waved his nearly empty scotch glass in the bartender’s direction and received a nod in return.

“Techs are wild. The best story I know from last week’s little correction comes from a tech stock. An acquaintance of mine works for a B2B software firm. Not a dotcom, but still overvalued. When they IPOed last year, her stake in the company made her an instant millionaire, one point or two point something or other. Fourth quarter they announced a growth rate way over the projections and she doubled her wealth overnight.

“Around the same time the company moved her out to the valley to the main headquarters. She went to California and her equity finally reached about six million with all signs pointing to doubling within the year.

“And I can see why she would take all this information and feel good about it–everything was simply going up and up. Her paper, the earnings, everything….”

“I see something bad coming here,” said A.

 ”Well, fully expecting a paper worth of twelve million dollars in a year’s time, she went out and bought a US five million dollar house in San Francisco. I have no idea how she was able to finance this thing holding a paper wealth of about six and not that long of a history with a fat salary.

“At any rate she bought the house and took on a massive monthly debt service on the thing.”

“Wow,” A. said as he started on his new scotch.

“Even buying the place with the twelve in hand looks like a bad idea to me, but five million in real estate with a paper worth of six million is simply begging for some degree of pain.

“After last week I called her because I knew that she took a real serious hit.”

“How serious?” A. asked.

“As of this morning, two point three. Up slightly from last Friday. The problem isn’t that the stock is going to be worthless, because it’s not. The business model is solid and they have a good product. The pain is in the fact that the trading has become realistic and will probably remain so. She’ll get a slow climb back toward that five or six million dollar mark, but twelve is naturally out of the question…”

“And she’s still holding the note with all that goddam debt service on it.” A commented.

“Precisely. That’s the tricky part of this market. When you start going too fast, it just gets too easy to spiral out of control into a really painful crash and burn.

“So before you get too upset about whatever kind of bath you might have taken, remember that it could have been worse. Much worse.”


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March 10, 2009

Mortgage problems to increase in 2009

A confluence of issues is coming together to keep the mortgage issue front and center for this year.

I’ve heard similar noise regarding five-year notes and commercial properties. That idea is based on a lot of bad deals went down from 2006 through 2008. Look for that fall-out to begin in 2011 and worsen through 2013. Fun times ahead, indeed.

From the link:

Robert Manning, research professor and director of the Center for Consumer Financial Services at the Rochester Institute of Technology here, contends that three issues-poor loan modifications, adjustable rates resetting, and five-year interest-only and jumbo loans coming due-will combine to make the mortgage mess worse in 2009.

“That’s what Obama’s administration is trying to prepare for,” said Manning, whose analysis for the Filene Research Institute’s study on the foreclosure crisis in Michigan helped him draw that conclusion. “We are going to have such a disaster in the housing market this year because we have three very different waves of foreclosures coming together at once.”

February 2, 2009

Obama’s plan for Main Street

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:45 pm

My previous post was on Obama’s Wall Street plan to bolster the embattled financial sector. This post is focused on the president’s plan for small business, home owners and other Main Street concerns.

This is one area Bush’s team didn’t address in any meaningful fashion. A move that probably hurt the GOP significantly in the last election cycle.

From the link:

President Barack Obama on Saturday promised to lower mortgage costs, offer job-creating loans for small businesses, get credit flowing and rein in free-spending executives as he readies a new strategy for spending billions from the second installment of the financial rescue plan.

The White House is deciding how to structure the remaining half of the $700 billion that Congress approved last year to save financial institutions and lenders. An announcement was possible as early as this coming week on an approach that would use a range of tools to unfreeze credit, helping families and businesses.

At the end of a week that saw hundreds of thousands of people lose their jobs, Obama also used his Saturday radio and Internet address to tell Americans that “no one bill, no matter how comprehensive, can cure what ails our economy.”

Obama has seized on the grim economic news to push his separate $825 billion economic stimulus bill now in the works, urging lawmakers to act boldly and overcome partisan divisions to counter a “devastating” crisis for Americans.

At the same time, Obama faces a dilemma over protectionist provisions in the bill that many fear could set off a trade war. Opposing the “buy America” measures, however, could set off a backlash from his supporters, particularly among labor unions.

January 9, 2009

The Fed equals fail

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:09 pm

This news isn’t really news for anyone who’s been paying attention.

From the link:

The U.S. Treasury has done nothing to ensure a $700 billion financial bailout fund is used to stabilize the weak mortgage market, which caused the U.S. economic crisis, a congressional watchdog said on Friday.

Elizabeth Warren, who heads a congressionally appointed oversight panel, told ABC news there was no evidence the Treasury had used money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program to support the housing market by avoiding preventable foreclosures.

“There’s just no money that’s gone in that direction. This one’s not even arguable,” she said. “The TARP funds themselves have not been used in this way despite congressional statutes requiring them to do so.”

In a draft of a report to be released on Friday, the panel said the Treasury has failed to reveal its strategy for stabilizing the financial system and had done little to track how the money was used.

It cited “significant gaps in Treasury’s monitoring of the use of taxpayer money,” including asking financial institutions to account for what they have done with taxpayer funds.

It also questioned whether Treasury has fulfilled its obligations to Congress.

“For Treasury to take no steps to use any of this money to alleviate the foreclosure crisis raises questions about whether Treasury has complied with Congress’s intent that Treasury develop a ‘plan that seeks to maximize assistance for homeowners,'” the panel said in the report.

The panel said the Treasury hasn’t used any of TARP’s first $350 billion tranche to help borrowers refinance or deal with mortgages that have a face value that is more than the current market value of their homes.

“Treasury needs to be clear as to what, if anything, it has done, and if it insists on taking credit for private sector efforts, it must explain what ‘help’ means,” the draft report said.

December 9, 2008

Mortgage modification might not be solution

There’s been a lot of talk about modifying home loans to help Main Street out during this era of corporate socialism on Wall Street.

Looks like that plan might not be so good after all. People having trouble paying still have trouble even after the mortgage gets reworked.

From the link:

Reacting to news that over half of borrowers have failed to keep up with their mortgage payments even after the terms of their loans have been modified, Office of Thrift Supervision director John Reich on Monday said that focusing on job creation might be a better use of federal dollars.

“I do have a concern about money for loan modifications, particularly with such a high range of re-default,” Reich told participants at a conference in Washington organized by the Office of Thrift Supervision. “Focusing on job creation is a better way to focus federal dollars than on a loan modification process may be only partially effective.”

Reich clashed with Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation chairwoman Sheila Bair over the best way to use government funds to end the financial crisis.

Reich’s comments were focused, in part, on Bair’s controversial proposal that would use $24.4 billion of a $700 billion government bank bailout program to modify loans. Bair argues that her proposal, which isn’t supported by outgoing Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, could avert 1.5 million foreclosures. Reich also referred to a job creation stimulus proposal put forward by President-elect Barack Obama.

December 6, 2008

Mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures way up

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:07 pm

Now this is not really news, but as an economic indicator it’s very, very distressing. While Rome burns and corporate socialism goes on unabated, Main Street USA has been enduring a slow rot for a couple of years now.

There will be a heavy price to pay as a nation if this problem does not meet a real solution soon. I feel happy I have a very manageable mortgage, fixed at a great rate. I have friends who aren’t so lucky.

Some got a little greedy buying a home and some just got screwed by the broker/bank combo pressing them into loans that would never be workable under any circumstances, then completely hiding the nature of the loan before the shit hit the fan.

I bet a lot of these homeowners in trouble faced the same set of circumstances.

From the link:

One in 10 American homeowners fell behind on mortgage payments or were in foreclosure during the third quarter as the world’s largest economy shed jobs and real estate prices tumbled.

The share of mortgages 30 days or more overdue rose to a seasonally adjusted 6.99 percent while loans already in foreclosure rose to 2.97 percent, both all-time highs in a survey that goes back 29 years, the Mortgage Bankers Association said in a report today. The gain in delinquencies was driven by an increase of loans with payments 90 days or more overdue.

December 2, 2008

Mortgages down to eight-year low

Dark economic days indeed.

From the link:

Mortgage bankers originated just $333 billion in one-to-four family loans in the third quarter, the industry’s worst showing since the fourth quarter of 2000, according to exclusive survey figures compiled by National Mortgage News and the Quarterly Data Report.

Compared to the same quarter a year ago, originations plunged 45%. Based on the third-quarter run-rate, just $1.33 trillion of home mortgages might be originated next year.

If so, it would be the industry’s second weakest year of the decade. The only immediate glimmer of hope for lenders is the prospect of future rate cuts by the Federal Reserve and bargain hunting in the foreclosure market, especially in California where in some neighborhoods prices have declined by as much as 50% from their peaks.

Richard Wilkes, the former head of Sears Mortgage and other shops, is predicting that the industry, and nation at large, is facing what he called the “nightmare of stagflation.”

He noted, “We saw this phenomenon in the late ’70s and early ’80s when we had a recession accompanied by prime rates as high as 21%.”

November 29, 2008

Modifying home loans via bankruptcy …

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:03 pm

… is actually a pretty good idea.

From the Obsidian Wings link:

Mortgages And Bankruptcy

by hilzoy

A bankruptcy judge in the Washington Post:

“Homeowners are the only ones who cannot modify the terms of their secured debts in bankruptcy. Corporate America flocks to bankruptcy courts to do precisely this — to restructure and reamortize loans whose conditions they find onerous or can no longer meet. Airlines are still flying and auto parts makers still operating because they have used this powerful tool of the bankruptcy process.

And from later in the post:

Perhaps it once made sense to think that mortgages should not be restructured in bankruptcy. I don’t think it makes sense now. It would be great if a repeal of this provision of the bankruptcy laws were one of the bills that will be waiting for President Obama to sign when he takes office.

November 6, 2008

Zero percent mortgage?

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:39 pm

It’s a bold idea, that’s for sure. As long as I could refinance mine at the same terms I say go for it. Of course this concept only applies to foreclosures. Drat.

From the link:

This got me thinking about the home industry and how zero-percent financing would work to start the wheels of buying and selling for the most critical patient in the country’s economic intensive care unit. While not a perfect analogy, automakers and home builders each produce an expensive product that their customers need to finance upon purchase. Why not KB Home, Pulte Homes and Shea? “Open House This Weekend, Zero Percent Financing.”

And taking it another step further, I thought about all that bailout money sitting in those bank vaults. If they won’t lend it, then Uncle Sam should use it to do fund a zero-interest comeback for the housing industry.

What if the federal government bought back foreclosed homes from those banks instead of giving them cash and then turned around and sold them using “zero-percent financing?”

Want to buy a house? Let the federal government sell it to you, as long as you have verified income that shows you can make payments. That median-priced, $300,000 foreclosure would be fixed at zero percent over 30 years, payable to Uncle Sam. Mess up the payments and taxpayers take it back and we try it again with another home buyer under the same terms.

October 22, 2008

Tough financial news …

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:21 pm

… all over the place, and in no surprise mortgages are at an eight-year low.

From the link:

Mortgage applications sink

An index that tracks the number of people applying for mortgages fell 16.6% last week to 408.1. That’s an eight-year low, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

 

“It’s getting harder to get a loan,” Patrick Newport, an economist at Global Insight, told Bloomberg News. “Sales will continue dropping for the rest of the year because of what’s happening in the credit markets.”

Applications to refinance existing mortgages were down 23.5% last week.

October 14, 2008

Winners and losers in the bailout

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:44 pm

If you’re looking for a quick, dirty and dense breakdown on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 — the “bailout” — check out this article from CFO.com. Keep in mind the details are pretty dense and probably require some understanding of the underlying finance and tax principles.

From the link:

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, popularly known as the bailout legislation, contains tax provisions that will benefit some taxpayers and penalize others. Among the widely-reported authorities the new law grants, the $700-billion government bailout legislation allows the Treasury Department to buy troubled mortgage assets from banks and other financial institutions, and invest directly in sputtering banks to bolster their liquidity position. But the new law changes some of the tax rules, too.

Here’s a rundown of those provisions and the affected tax law.

October 3, 2008

Car loans the latest financial crisis casualty

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:42 am

Mortgages have been an issue for a while because of the ongoing subprime troubles, but some other real-world effects of the financial crisis are showing up on “Main Street” to borrow the buzzword of the bailout — car loans are becoming hard to find.

From the WSJ link:

The era of easy auto loans has come skidding to a halt.

Mortgages were among the first consumer products to be hit by the credit-market freeze. Now car loans and leases are drying up as dealers, auto-finance companies and other lenders are having trouble finding money to lend to car buyers. The upshot: Those with less-than-stellar credit are getting shut out of loans, and even some so-called prime borrowers are having trouble getting financing.

“You have to just about be walking on water to get financed,” says Mike Jackson, chief executive of AutoNation Inc., the largest U.S. chain of dealerships. He added that the subprime market is “basically almost closed” but “even with our prime customers, banks are looking for a reason to say no.”

AutoNation dealerships sold 532,862 light-duty cars and trucks last year, and this year, amid the credit crunch, that number could fall by as much as 20%, Mr. Jackson says.

January 31, 2008

Another (?!) Fed rate cut

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:16 pm

I didn’t get to this yesterday, and still find it more than a bit odd and very disconcerting from an economics perspective. The Federal Reserve cut the Fed funds rate by a half point dropping the rate to three percent.

This was the second cut in eight days with a three quarter point cut last week. Even though this latest cut was somewhat expected the move strikes me as desperate, and maybe even a bit reckless, market manipulation. Basically the Fed is telling everyone it didn’t trust last week’s pretty drastic move to percolate and do its job.

The rationale is policymakers are worried about housing and jobs and indicated there could be future cuts. From an economic perspective I like to see the market largely sort itself out through difficult times, and certainly be given time to react to a strong move like last week’s cut.

This cut, barely a week later, gives me a certain amount of pause and makes me wonder what the Fed knows, fears to the point of this move, and hopes to forestall.

Here’s some numbers from the AP article linked above:

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell 17/32 to 104 8/32 with a yield of 3.73 percent, up from 3.68 percent late Tuesday. Prices and yields move in opposite directions.

The 30-year long bond lost 1 14/32 to 109 6/32 with a yield of 4.39 percent, up from 4.36 percent late Tuesday.

The 2-year note dropped 1/32 to 99 21/32 with a 2.29 percent yield, unchanged from Tuesday.

The Fed has reduced rates by 2.25 percentage points since September when financial markets began seizing up in response to the subprime mortgage crisis.

January 30, 2008

“Paper” — a work of short fiction

Filed under: Arts, Media — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 8:00 am

Following is a piece of short fiction. I originally posted this to my website davidkirkpatrick.com January 17, 2002.

Here’s how I introduced the story then:

“Paper” was written after the stumble, but before the fall of the new economy. Its theme fits nicely with today’s cautionary stock market news, headlined by Enron’s troubles.

What is interesting is how this short bit of dialog was written to reflect the tech crash and how many people ended up overextended with paper, rather than liquid, assets. In some ways it’s even more apropos today with the ongoing mortgage crisis.

Without further adieu, the story …

***

Paper

By David Kirkpatrick

“You making any money on the market?” A. asked.

“Nothing spectacular. I’m in for the long haul. I make it a personal rule to not even take a peek anytime the Dow drops over 200 points. How about yourself?”

“Took an absolute bath at the end of last week, but it did get me to move a large chunk out of techs. I’m starting to see the value in the long haul myself,” said A. He waved his nearly empty scotch glass in the bartender’s direction and received a nod in return.

“Techs are wild. The best story I know from last week’s little correction comes from a tech stock. An acquaintance of mine works for a B2B software firm. Not a dotcom, but still overvalued. When they IPOed last year, her stake in the company made her an instant millionaire, one point or two point something or other. Fourth quarter they announced a growth rate way over the projections and she doubled her wealth overnight.

“Around the same time the company moved her out to the valley to the main headquarters. She went to California and her equity finally reached about six million with all signs pointing to doubling within the year.

“And I can see why she would take all this information and feel good about it–everything was simply going up and up. Her paper, the earnings, everything….”

“I see something bad coming here,” said A.

(more…)