Buy a Home During Mercury Retrograde? Not in This Universe. | Kanebridge News
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Buy a Home During Mercury Retrograde? Not in This Universe.

These two buyers found the perfect home, but the stars hadn’t yet realigned

Wed, Sep 21, 2022 8:37amGrey Clock 3 min
Has astrology ever affected a sale?

Joanne Greene, associate broker, Brown Harris Stevens in New York City

I ran into the wife of an old client of mine. They were deciding, “Should we renovate or should we move?”

So we go out, we start looking at things. It was really about seeing what was out there, as opposed to doing a renovation. We found something that was way out of their price range, $12.5 million, on the Upper East Side. But I knew these people, and it was a perfect apartment for them.

The wife was going on a hiking trip in Northern California, but at the very last minute the trip was canceled because of the mudslides there. So we decided to go back and look at this apartment again. They said, “You know what, we love it, we really want to do it. We’ll have to sell our apartment.” Then they said, “But Mercury is entering into retrograde, so everything has to be done beforehand.”

They explained to me that they don’t make decisions during the time Mercury is in retrograde. It affected when they got engaged, when they got married, all their purchasing decisions. It had gotten to the point where now they don’t travel when Mercury is in retrograde. They’ve converted their travel agent over to the stars.

Usually people aren’t in such a rush. But as a broker, I was like, “Great! Let’s do it sooner rather than later!” It all took like a week. We put in an offer. We did share with the sellers that the buyers wouldn’t sign any documents while Mercury was in retrograde so we’d have to get the contract signed quickly. We also had to sign an exclusive on their apartment to list it.

By the way, I’d never heard about any of this before, but if that’s what they wanted, I’m completely onboard.

It was all good karma for everyone. Every transaction worked out so well and so smoothly. It’s very rare to have that happen when you’re handling both the purchasing and the selling; there are a lot of moving parts.

I’m not superstitious, but I’ve had clients who don’t want 4s in a contract, or who want 8s. I say, “If you want all 8s in it, that’s fine!” I had a rabbi who wanted everything to add up to 18, because that’s good luck. That’s fine, too.

Wendy Arriz, associate broker, Sotheby’s International Realty in New York City

I was representing a seller of a home downtown—an off-market listing priced north of $10 million. The buyer was a past client of mine. When I described the property, this buyer got super-interested. They came and saw it and made an offer. But it was made clear that this person wasn’t going to be in a position to sign a contract right then because, as a rule of thumb, this person never made any serious decisions or did contract signings while Mercury is in retrograde. They said, “No, no, no, things can really go awry; it’s just not done.”

At first, I couldn’t believe it. I thought, “Really?” But you know, I also want to be respectful. So that was a term of the deal—a verbal understanding, there was nothing in writing. I passed it along to the seller. There was a bit of a giggle, but it wasn’t an issue. This was a downtown seller. Someone on the Upper East Side might not have processed it as well.

There was a lot of Google searching to figure out the dates. I did the deal sheet and organized the specifics. The attorneys were doing the due diligence; a home inspection was involved. It was all going like a normal transaction would, with the understanding that nothing was going to get signed till Mercury was no longer in retrograde.

Then the stars were clear. The contract could be signed. I contacted my buyer about whether they wanted to move forward now that the coast was clear—and they didn’t. The buyer was having an issue.

I hadn’t had any deals fall apart in the 14 years I’ve been selling real estate. I try to just steer the course and do the right thing and if things are meant to be, they’re meant to be. This deal fell apart, but it wasn’t because Mercury was in retrograde.

Or was it?


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

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China’s EV Juggernaut Is a Warning for the West

Competitive pressure and creativity have made Chinese-designed and -built electric cars formidable competitors

Thu, Jun 8, 2023 4 min

China rocked the auto world twice this year. First, its electric vehicles stunned Western rivals at the Shanghai auto show with their quality, features and price. Then came reports that in the first quarter of 2023 it dethroned Japan as the world’s largest auto exporter.

How is China in contention to lead the world’s most lucrative and prestigious consumer goods market, one long dominated by American, European, Japanese and South Korean nameplates? The answer is a unique combination of industrial policy, protectionism and homegrown competitive dynamism. Western policy makers and business leaders are better prepared for the first two than the third.

Start with industrial policy—the use of government resources to help favoured sectors. China has practiced industrial policy for decades. While it’s finding increased favour even in the U.S., the concept remains controversial. Governments have a poor record of identifying winning technologies and often end up subsidising inferior and wasteful capacity, including in China.

But in the case of EVs, Chinese industrial policy had a couple of things going for it. First, governments around the world saw climate change as an enduring threat that would require decade-long interventions to transition away from fossil fuels. China bet correctly that in transportation, the transition would favour electric vehicles.

In 2009, China started handing out generous subsidies to buyers of EVs. Public procurement of taxis and buses was targeted to electric vehicles, rechargers were subsidised, and provincial governments stumped up capital for lithium mining and refining for EV batteries. In 2020 NIO, at the time an aspiring challenger to Tesla, avoided bankruptcy thanks to a government-led bailout.

While industrial policy guaranteed a demand for EVs, protectionism ensured those EVs would be made in China, by Chinese companies. To qualify for subsidies, cars had to be domestically made, although foreign brands did qualify. They also had to have batteries made by Chinese companies, giving Chinese national champions like Contemporary Amperex Technology and BYD an advantage over then-market leaders from Japan and South Korea.

To sell in China, foreign automakers had to abide by conditions intended to upgrade the local industry’s skills. State-owned Guangzhou Automobile Group developed the manufacturing know-how necessary to become a player in EVs thanks to joint ventures with Toyota and Honda, said Gregor Sebastian, an analyst at Germany’s Mercator Institute for China Studies.

Despite all that government support, sales of EVs remained weak until 2019, when China let Tesla open a wholly owned factory in Shanghai. “It took this catalyst…to boost interest and increase the level of competitiveness of the local Chinese makers,” said Tu Le, managing director of Sino Auto Insights, a research service specialising in the Chinese auto industry.

Back in 2011 Pony Ma, the founder of Tencent, explained what set Chinese capitalism apart from its American counterpart. “In America, when you bring an idea to market you usually have several months before competition pops up, allowing you to capture significant market share,” he said, according to Fast Company, a technology magazine. “In China, you can have hundreds of competitors within the first hours of going live. Ideas are not important in China—execution is.”

Thanks to that competition and focus on execution, the EV industry went from a niche industrial-policy project to a sprawling ecosystem of predominantly private companies. Much of this happened below the Western radar while China was cut off from the world because of Covid-19 restrictions.

When Western auto executives flew in for April’s Shanghai auto show, “they saw a sea of green plates, a sea of Chinese brands,” said Le, referring to the green license plates assigned to clean-energy vehicles in China. “They hear the sounds of the door closing, sit inside and look at the quality of the materials, the fabric or the plastic on the console, that’s the other holy s— moment—they’ve caught up to us.”

Manufacturers of gasoline cars are product-oriented, whereas EV manufacturers, like tech companies, are user-oriented, Le said. Chinese EVs feature at least two, often three, display screens, one suitable for watching movies from the back seat, multiple lidars (laser-based sensors) for driver assistance, and even a microphone for karaoke (quickly copied by Tesla). Meanwhile, Chinese suppliers such as CATL have gone from laggard to leader.

Chinese dominance of EVs isn’t preordained. The low barriers to entry exploited by Chinese brands also open the door to future non-Chinese competitors. Nor does China’s success in EVs necessarily translate to other sectors where industrial policy matters less and creativity, privacy and deeply woven technological capability—such as software, cloud computing and semiconductors—matter more.

Still, the threat to Western auto market share posed by Chinese EVs is one for which Western policy makers have no obvious answer. “You can shut off your own market and to a certain extent that will shield production for your domestic needs,” said Sebastian. “The question really is, what are you going to do for the global south, countries that are still very happily trading with China?”

Western companies themselves are likely to respond by deepening their presence in China—not to sell cars, but for proximity to the most sophisticated customers and suppliers. Jörg Wuttke, the past president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, calls China a “fitness centre.” Even as conditions there become steadily more difficult, Western multinationals “have to be there. It keeps you fit.”


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

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