Friday, December 19, 2008

The King And I

Roy Hobbs was The Natural.

Roi is the French word for King.

Brandon Roy is often referred to with the title, The Natural, and he just took his place in Blazers Royalty with a 52-point performance on Thursday night against the Phoenix Suns.

Roy is a gifted basketball player. He can score, shoot, pass, defend, handle the ball, penetrate and create his own shot. He has no weakness. He doesn’t make many mistakes and the ones he does are minor. He has a superior basketball mind and is tough mentally to take over games.

I’ve been surprised by Roy at every turn. Coming out of the University of Washington (I hate UW) he had some promise but most of us didn’t know much about him. His teams at UW were very good his last two years and he was an All-American. He stayed in school for all four years and it showed when he reached the pros.

His rookie year he looked like a very solid, but unspectacular player. He did a lot of good things on the court, but I figured this was what he was. 17 points per game, decent shooting, 4 rebounds, 4 assists. Good numbers for the #2 guy on a team, which is what I figured he would be.

His second season, they turned the team over to him and almost all of his numbers improved. He made the All-Star team. Again, I said to myself that this was the best we’d see from Roy. He’d be just less than 20 points per game and just fewer than 5 rebounds and 5 boards. But he still wasn’t displaying the athleticism that most game-changing players provide.

I was so wrong about him.

This season he is taking the burden of this entire franchise on his back and he is thriving. 23.4 points per game, leadership, game changing performances night in and night out and he’s currently having the best stretch of any Blazers player since Clyde Drexler in the early 90’s. Maybe the best stretch ever. I didn’t think he had another level to go to and he clearly does. I’m trying to find a single player to compare him to and am failing. There may not be a direct comparison available. He’s part Larry Bird, part Terry Porter, part Gary Payton, part Reggie Miller.

It’s so fun being a Blazers fan these days.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Plan To Fix The Economy

I just sent the following to President Elect Obama's team. It's important to note that I do not address the politics of my plan. There will be lots of upset people whose only benefit would be a stable nation and economy (no big deal...) But the plan would work, I am confident of it.

"If there were a way to get the vast majority of mortgages in foreclosure to resume their monthly payments would it have an impact on the troubled economy?

There is a way to do this with prudent, responsible investment from the Federal Government in our banking institutions.

The premise is to use federal funds to create an endowment to assist both the banks and the troubled borrowers. The endowment would be invested in the banks that need capital to loan as normal. The interest generated by these deposits would be routed to the Fed to then assist homeowners in making their mortgage payments.

If we invested $400 billion dollars at 3.5% annually it would generate about $1.2 billion per month in interest. The interest would then be used to assist a troubled borrower in making their mortgage payment. If an average borrower is in need of an additional $500 to make their payments this investment could help over 2.3 million average borrowers. If a rate of return of 4.0% was possible, this investment could assist over 2.6 million average borrowers. The more money invested and the higher the rate of return the more troubled homeowners could be helped. Banks could even compete for these deposits by guaranteeing higher returns over time.

This program does not buy out a mortgage, nor does it make the homeowners entire payment. They are still making a monthly payment of what they can reasonably afford. This would just bridge the gap between what they owe and what they can pay.

This program would get the money flowing back into the bank on the front end, with both what the borrower can repay and what the program can do to cover the gap. Plus the banks receive the initial deposits to help them lend.

Over time, as property values stabilize and hopefully increase, participants would be offered refinance options to reduce their need for assistance and eventually be out of the program entirely. As assistance is reduced, the original investment could be withdrawn slowly and repaid to the Fed.

The risk to the taxpayer is small. The benefit to our economy is massive. People keep their homes, their jobs and their dignity, banks have money to lend and have vastly fewer mortgages in default."