News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Apr. 24-25, 2014

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) Wall Street Greed: Not Too Big for a California Jury | PropertyPak

2) 1 dead, damage tops $100,000 in Austin fire | Latest State headlines from AP | News from…

3) Report: People moving from vanishing Gulf Coast | New Orleans CityBusiness

4) AP News Update | SheridanMedia com

5) Chilean forest fires ravage largest area on record – BNamericas

6) Large Wildfire in Dutch National Park – ABC News

7) State ends inmate asbestos-cleaning program – AP State – MyNorthwest com

8) McEwen ammunition plant explosion ruled accidental – Knoxville News Sentinel

9) Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance News Release, Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week

10) PG&E pleads not guilty to federal charges in deadly California blast – KELO Newstalk – Sioux Falls, SD

11) Suit filed against New Llano for pit bull ban – KNOE 8 News | KNOE com

12) The Charleston Gazette | DEP wants public input on tank rules

13) Barrington homeowners apply for federal aid to raise houses as way to lessen flood risk | Breaking News | providencejournal com | The Providence Journal

14) Austin Housing Market Starts 2014 Strong: New Home Starts & Vacant Developed Lots up in a Big Way | Metrostudy Report | Primary and secondary housing market information, research and consulting.

15) Des Moines-area housing market endures dead of winter

16) Hamptons home prices surge, rest of LI mixed in first-quarter sales – Newsday

17) Austin's best new buildings: 2014 Commercial Real Estate Awards – Austin Business Journal

18) Goode Properties preparing to start construction on Monroe Road project – Charlotte Business Journal

19) Weak Household Formation Continues To Weigh On The Housing Market – Business Insider

20) Coming of light rail is already driving real estate investments in Seattle – Puget Sound Business Journal

21) Taxpayer Victory Helps Trusts Holding Business And Real Estate Avoid Tax – Tax – United States

22) Cash drop in the euro zone adds to impetus for ECB action | Reuters

23) Google turns Maps into a time machine – The Technology Chronicles

24) Wyoming gas explosion prompts evacuation of town | Nation & World | The Seattle Times

25) Huge Apartment Supply Wave is Testing Raleigh/Durham's Demand Drivers – Apartment Market Dynamics – YouTube

26) International Week in Review: Creeping Deflation and Secular Stagnation Edition

27) The Report | Post-Crash Economics Society

28) Noahpinion: The Neo-Fisherite Rebellion

  1.    Wall Street Greed: Not Too Big for a California Jury | PropertyPak

    by Ellen Brown, April 23, 2014

    Sixteen of the world's largest banks have been caught colluding to rig global interest rates. Why are we doing business with a corrupt global banking cartel?

    Add your comment.


  2.    1 dead, damage tops $100,000 in Austin fire | Latest State headlines from AP | News from…

    AUSTIN, Texas — Fire officials in Austin say one man has died and damages are more than $100,000 after a blaze broke out an apartment complex.

    Add your comment.


  3.    Report: People moving from vanishing Gulf Coast | New Orleans CityBusiness

    A new report says commuting statistics indicate that coastal parishes are losing residents because of coastal erosion. And it says those left behind tend to be those who cannot afford to move.

    The Data Center, based in New Orleans, said Sunday that in Plaquemines Parish, 72 percent of all workers commute into the parish, up from 69 percent in 2004.

    "Coastal populations facing rising sea levels are moving to higher ground," according to The Data Center's report. "Repeated flooding, frequent evacuations and inability to get insurance are all factors that have contributed to residents' decisions to migrate inland. The population left behind is on average older, poorer or otherwise vulnerable."

    Add your comment.


  4.    AP News Update | SheridanMedia.com

    It's the second story on the page.

    JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) – A small parking structure is the latest victim of a slow-moving landslide in Jackson.

    Add your comment.


  5.    Chilean forest fires ravage largest area on record – BNamericas

    Drought:

    Forest fires in Chile have ravaged an area the size of Manhattan, Buenos Aires, Paris and Madrid combined since October.

    In the 2013-14 season, Chile has registered 5,885 forest fires, 7% more than in the previous season and 14% above a five-year average, according to figures from forestry service Conaf.

    Add your comment.


  6.    Large Wildfire in Dutch National Park – ABC News

    A large wildfire destroyed at least 530 hectares (1,300 acres) in the Netherlands' Hoge Veluwe National Park on Sunday, one of the worst fires seen in the region for decades, Dutch authorities said.

    Add your comment.


  7.    State ends inmate asbestos-cleaning program – AP State – MyNorthwest.com

    OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington state has ended a program that used prisoners to remove asbestos-containing material.

    The 23-year-old program that paid prisoners $4 an hour to clean up the asbestos was shut down on Dec. 31.

    Add your comment.


  8.    McEwen ammunition plant explosion ruled accidental – Knoxville News Sentinel

    MCEWEN, Tenn. (AP) — The deadly explosion at a McEwen ammunition plant was accidental, according to a preliminary investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

    ATF spokesman Michael Knight said it will now be up to the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration to determine fault and whether there were any safety violations at the plant. The state agency also will determine penalties, if appropriate.

    Add your comment.


  9.    Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance News Release, Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week

    Madison, WI—Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 21-25, 2014.

    Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel is urging Wisconsin residents to be prepared for Wisconsin's severe weather season. Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week is a reminder to check your supplies and plans ensuring your family's safety and preparedness.

    "The most important thing is to make sure that you and your family have a safe place to go if a severe weather hits your area. It's also a great time to make sure that your insurance policies are up to date," said Nickel. "If you don't have adequate coverage in place before a storm hits, you may add to the problems you'll face from the storm."

    Your policy review should include all insurance coverage, not just a homeowner's policy. Reviewing auto insurance policies will help determine if you're covered for storm damage to your vehicle. Consumers should also consider adding coverage for their living expenses if their homes become uninhabitable due to storm damage. Business owners should consider purchasing business interruption coverage to protect them if storm damage shuts down their business for an extended period of time.

    Wisconsin had 16 reported tornadoes in 2013 according to the statistics kept by the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office. The most active months were July and August with 13 tornadoes in those two months. The National Weather Service in Wisconsin issues 29 severe thunderstorm watches per year on average.

    Typical homeowner's policies usually provide coverage for damage that is the result of severe weather such as damage from hail or high winds. An exception is that damage caused by flooding is typically not covered. To protect you against floods, a separate policy must be purchased from the National Flood Insurance Plan (NFIP). Check with your insurance agent or insurance company about signing up for NFIP protection.

    Damage resulting from sewer backup and sump pump problems is also rarely covered in homeowner's policies, but may be added through endorsements. Endorsements are added to insurance policies in order to provide additional coverage to the homeowner's policy. OCI encourages consumers to carefully review all endorsements before they are added to a policy.

    During Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week Nickel encourages consumers work with their insurance agent to ensure that their level of protection will result in adequate financial protection from losses resulting from severe storms and that the coverage in place is suitable for the risks they face.

    Nickel suggests the following steps if your home is damaged by a storm:

    1. Notify your company or agent as soon as possible in order to begin the insurance claim process.
    2. Take photographs of the damage for the insurance company.
    3. Make any necessary repairs to protect yourself from further loss or damage as soon as it is safe to do so.
    4. Make a list of damaged items and keep all receipts that document the cost of the repairs or the replacement of damaged items.
    5. Don't throw away furniture or expensive items damaged by the storm. Your insurance adjuster will want to see these.

    Additionally, consumers should prepare ahead of time by making sure they have a comprehensive inventory of their personal property. See the Personal Property Home Inventory on OCI's Web site at: oci.wi.gov/pub_list/pi-224.pdf.

    For iPhone® and iPad® users, go to the iTunes® App Store and download myHOME Scr.APP.book, an application from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The fr ee myHOME Scr.APP.book application lets users quickly photograph and capture images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers, and then stores them electronically for safekeeping. The application organizes information room by room and even creates a back-up file for e-mail sharing.

    More information about homeowner's insurance and filing claims is available in publications such as Consumer's Guide to Homeowner's Insurance, Settling Property Insurance Claims and Personal Property Home Inventory available on OCI's Web site at oci.wi.gov. Hard copies of the publications may be requested by e-mailing ocipublications@wisconsin.gov, by calling 800-236-8517, or by writing OCI Publications, P.O. Box 7873, Madison, WI 53707-7873. More information on the National Flood Insurance Program can be found at www.floodsmart.gov.

    Created by the Legislature in 1871, Wisconsin's Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) was vested with broad powers to ensure that the insurance industry responsibly and adequately met the insurance needs of Wisconsin citizens. Today, OCI's mission is to lead the way in informing and protecting the public and responding to its insurance needs.

    Add your comment.


  10.    PG&E pleads not guilty to federal charges in deadly California blast – News – KELO Newstalk 1320 107.9 – Local News & Talk Radio – Sioux Falls, SD

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Pacific Gas and Electric Co pleaded not guilty on Monday to federal charges stemming from a natural gas pipeline explosion in California that killed eight people and injured 58 others in 2010, according to court filings.

    Add your comment.


  11.    Suit filed against New Llano for pit bull ban – KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

    LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) – A New Llano couple filed suit against the town in federal court Wednesday, claiming the town's ban on pit bulls and pit-bull-like breeds violates dog owners' equal protection, property and due process rights.

    Add your comment.


  12.    The Charleston Gazette | DEP wants public input on tank rules

    State regulators have begun the process of seeking input from the public on rules to implement West Virginia's new chemical storage tank law, passed by lawmakers in response to the January leak of MCHM into the Elk River drinking water supply.

    The Department of Environmental Protection has asked that "stakeholders" provide written comments before May 15, describing what they think the rules should say.

    Agency officials plan to consider those comments, then draft a rule and hold an open public meeting "to discuss and debate" the draft prior to the formal rule-making process, which will include a second opportunity for public comment and a formal hearing.

    Add your comment.


  13.    Barrington homeowners apply for federal aid to raise houses as way to lessen flood risk | Breaking News | providencejournal.com | The Providence Journal

    BARRINGTON — Seven homeowners in the Bay Spring and Hampden Meadows neighborhoods have applied through the town's planning office for federal grants that could pay up to 75 percent of the cost of elevating their houses.

    Add your comment.


  14.    Austin Housing Market Starts 2014 Strong: New Home Starts & Vacant Developed Lots up in a Big Way | Metrostudy Report | Primary and secondary housing market information, research and consulting.

    Metrostudy, a housing information and consulting firm, reported today [April 17, 2014] that their quarterly survey of the Austin market revealed a 16% increase in new home starts from 1Q-13. Metrostudy's survey recorded 2,209 new detached home starts in the first quarter of 2014, a 16% increase from 1Q-13's total. Austin builders started 9,668 new homes in the last twelve months, representing a 15% increase year-over-year. At the same time, area builders closed 2,045 new homes in the last three months, 2% more than the first quarter of last year. Over the last four quarters, builders have closed 8,916 new homes, a 19% increase over the prior four quarters.

    Add your comment.


  15.    Des Moines-area housing market endures dead of winter

    It was a rough quarter for the local housing market.

    Iowa home sales fell 11 percent for the first three months, compared with the same period a year ago. Des Moines-area home sales dropped 7 percent, and permits for new homes in the metro fell 9 percent.

    The first three months of the year provided a stark contrast from 2013's hot real estate market. Home sales and prices last year grew at the fastest pace in a decade, while residential building permits increased more than 20 percent.

    The weather has been the popular scapegoat. And for good reason: the past winter was Iowa's ninth-coldest on record, which real estate professionals said kept homebuyers indoors and prevented builders from digging new foundations.

    But can the slump be blamed entirely on the weather?

    Probably not, said Ernie Goss, a professor of economics at Creighton University.

    Add your comment.


  16.    Hamptons home prices surge, rest of LI mixed in first-quarter sales – Newsday

    About that thumbnail image: "A home for sale at 60 Halsey Street in Southampton had an asking price of $4.95 million." That house in other parts of the country wouldn't be priced at even a tenth of that. Of course, location, location, location, right?

    Hamptons home prices spiked 19 percent in the first quarter compared with last year, and the rest of the Long Island real estate market got off to a healthy start despite a spate of winter storms.

    In the Hamptons, the median price hit $880,000 in the first three months of 2014, according to reports to be released Thursday by the appraisal firm Miller Samuel and the brokerage Douglas Elliman. Closed sales soared by 52 percent, to 528.

    The North Fork was busy too, with 109 homes sold, a year-over-year gain of nearly 40 percent, although the median price dropped by 7 percent, to $436,000.

    Add your comment.


  17.    Austin's best new buildings: 2014 Commercial Real Estate Awards – Austin Business Journal

    A dozen buildings, projects and real estate transactions were recognized Wednesday during the Austin Business Journal's 15th annual Commercial Real Estate Awards gala at the Four Seasons.

    Add your comment.


  18.    Goode Properties preparing to start construction on Monroe Road project – Charlotte Business Journal

    Charlotte real estate firm Goode Properties expects to start construction this spring on Meridian Place, a multi-use development planned for 20 acres on Monroe Road that will feature a 260-unit apartment project as well as retail and office space.

    Add your comment.


  19.    Weak Household Formation Continues To Weigh On The Housing Market – Business Insider

    The biggest issue however remains household formation. As of the end of last year for example, the number of American households was not growing at all (see chart). This is likely due to record low marriage rates as well as a slew of other factors. Whatever the reason, household formation needs to stabilize before we see stronger results in the US housing market.

    Add your comment.


  20.    Coming of light rail is already driving real estate investments in Seattle – Puget Sound Business Journal

    A landmark Seattle apartment building across the street from the University District's future light rail station traded hands Tuesday for $13 million.

    Gerry Pigotti of Gibraltar/Persus Capital Partners in Seattle said the proximity of University Manor Apartments to the station played a "huge role" in his decision to buy the property. The U District Station is scheduled to open in 2021, and when it does, riders will be able to get to downtown Seattle in eight minutes. Pigotti said this will allow University Manor to charge rents closer to those of downtown properties.

    Add your comment.


  21.    Taxpayer Victory Helps Trusts Holding Business And Real Estate Avoid Tax – Tax – United States

    A very important and intelligent paragraph:

    Even if the activities of the trust's non-trustee employees should be disregarded, the activities of the trustees—including their activities as employees of Holiday Enterprises, LLC—should be considered in determining whether the trust materially participated in its real-estate operations. The trustees were required by Michigan statutory law to administer the trust solely in the interests of the trust beneficiaries, because trustees have a duty to act as a prudent person would in dealing with the property of another, i.e., a beneficiary …

    Read the whole article for context.

    Add your comment.


  22.    Cash drop in the euro zone adds to impetus for ECB action | Reuters

    (Reuters) – The amount of spare cash in the euro zone banking system fell to its lowest levels in 2-1/2 years on Thursday, pushing up short-term money market rates and adding impetus for the ECB to loosen policy further.

    The fall in liquidity comes as European Central Bank policymakers have ramped up rhetoric to talk down a strong euro whose resilience could stoke disinflation in the euro zone and torpedo its fragile economic recovery.

    ECB President Mario Draghi said weaker inflation could prompt broad ECB asset purchases and the bank could also start charging banks for parking cash with it overnight if there was an undue tightening of its policy stance.

    Add your comment.


  23.    Google turns Maps into a time machine – The Technology Chronicles

    With Street View, Google Maps introduced handy — and sometimes privacy invading — photo of homes, neighborhoods, landmarks and other street scenes. On Wednesday, the Mountain View Internet giant turned Street View into a time machine.

    Google Maps now offers past and present photos of individual street scenes to let users compare how the world has changed since 2007. When possible, Street Views presents a slider bar so viewers can scroll through all the photos Google has taken of a particular location since it started sending out Google Map crews.

    Add your comment.


  24.    Wyoming gas explosion prompts evacuation of town | Nation & World | The Seattle Times

    OPAL, Wyo. —

    Residents and emergency crews are waiting for a fire to burn itself out after an explosion at a natural gas processing plant in a small town in southwestern Wyoming.

    No injuries were reported in the explosion Wednesday afternoon in Opal (Oh-PAL'). The town of about 95 people about 100 miles northeast of Salt Lake City remains evacuated.

    Add your comment.


  25.    Huge Apartment Supply Wave is Testing Raleigh/Durham's Demand Drivers – Apartment Market Dynamics – YouTube

    Raleigh/Durham was a hot target among apartment developers and investors coming out of the recession starting in 2010. They brought record levels of new apartment development into the market, and the first big wave of new supply is completing. How is the local apartment sector responding so far, and what's in store ahead?

    Add your comment.


  26.    International Week in Review: Creeping Deflation and Secular Stagnation Edition

    … a period of prolonged deflation might seem like a good thing, it's actually a very dangerous economic event as it can create a "deflationary spiral" where the following facts occur: consumers start to delay purchases believing that prices will at least remain stable for an extended period of time. This slows overall economic growth, leading businesses to slow their activities in response. At minimum, this leads to a decreased pace of hiring and slow period of investment. Worse yet, this becomes a self-reinforcing cycle, as slow sales by consumers leads to a slowing business climate, which causes slow employment growth and small wage increases, which leads to slower consumer purchases. If you really have any doubts about the rather hideous nature of this situation, just ask anyone who's been living in Japan for the last 20 years.

    Add your comment.


  27.    The Report | Post-Crash Economics Society

    Economics education is monopolised by a single school of thought commonly referred to as neoclassical economics. Crucially, very few economists working within this mainstream predicted the Financial Crisis. Afterwards many concluded that the best predictions came from those economists that had been marginalised by the mainstream. Despite this alternative perspectives are still close to non-existent in undergraduate programmes. We demonstrate this through a detailed analysis of Manchester's syllabus, which itself is representative of economics syllabuses around the UK. This lack of competing thought stifles innovation, damages creativity and suppresses the constructive criticisms that are so vital for economic understanding and advancement. There is also a distinct lack of real-world application of economic ideas, with the focus being on abstract modelling that often seems devoid from reality. Finally, the study of ethics, politics and history are almost completely absent from the syllabus. We propose that economics cannot be properly understood with all these aspects excluded.

    We agree.

    Add your comment.


  28.    Noahpinion: The Neo-Fisherite Rebellion

    Nailing Jello to the wall.

    Over the last three years, a quiet rebellion seems to have sprung up in macroeconomic circles. So far, it's limited to a few whispers, a couple of papers, and the odd blog post or dinner speech, but it represents a striking break from conventional thinking. And despite my best efforts, I find myself unable to convince myself that it's wrong. The rebellious idea – which I've decided to call "Neo-Fisherite" – is that low interest rates cause deflation, and high interest rates cause inflation.

    There are too many unaddressed variables (not the authors fault). Excess reserves is one of them. Another is fiscal policy and actions or, more importantly, lack thereof, as in not enough fiscal spending in the right places.

    Add your comment.


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