News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Jul. 19-21, 2014

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) Volatile Phoenix housing: A cautionary tale for rest of US

2) US expanding sanctions against Russia for its support of separatists in Ukraine – The Washington Post

3) [Recommended] Miami, the great world city, is drowning while the powers that be look away | World news | The Observer

4) 4 things to avoid when buying cash flow real estate | Blog of Real Return Real Estate

5) California Halts Injection of Fracking Waste, Warning it May Be Contaminating Aquifers – ProPublica

6) Barn fire destroys 400 tons of hay at Hutterite colony

7) State money needed under PG landslide proposal – The Washington Post

8) UPDATE 1-US official warns of lawsuit as BofA mortgage talks stall | Reuters

9) New Insight on the Nation's Earthquake Hazards | Science Features

10) AIR Worldwide Releases Updated Severe Thunderstorm Model for the United States – MarketWatch

11) Front doors and selling your home – Imagine Stagers

12) Urbanization and the World Most Populated Cities | Sustainable Cities Collective

13) China's debt-to-GDP level: 200% and counting | The Economist

14) Warren, McCain: Rein in 'too big to fail' banks – CNN . com

15) Officials: 19 of developer's properties lack permits | HamptonRoads . com | PilotOnline . com

16) China Home Prices Fall in Record Cities, Signaling More Easing – Bloomberg

17) Housing Market In China Posts Sharp Decline Again

18) Destructive E. Washington fire empties another town | Seattle | KOMO News

19) QE is for the Rich: Jim Bruce & George Magnus talks BIS & Monetary Policy – YouTube

  1.    Volatile Phoenix housing: A cautionary tale for rest of US

    The numbers in Phoenix now paint an ugly picture: Regular resales are down 2 percent from a year ago. Sales of newly built homes are down 4 percent. Short sales and preforeclosure sales are down 73 percent and sales of bank-owned homes are down 20 percent, all according to Arizona State University. Meanwhile the number of active listings is up 69 percent from a year ago.

    "Right now demand is very weak for a number of reasons," said Orr. [Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business]

    The reasons are much like in the rest of the nation: Potential buyers are still repairing their credit after the foreclosure crisis. Others do not have enough equity in their current homes to sell and move up. Demand is also weak because credit is tighter, prices are high and younger Americans are not buying.

    Add your comment.


  2.    U.S. expanding sanctions against Russia for its support of separatists in Ukraine – The Washington Post

    Ordinarily we wouldn't include such a politically charged issue directly, but this situation has the potential to become huge from a number of perspectives, not the least of which is global economics.

    We say that because Russia could bite the bullet if pushed too far. It could wait until the cold of winter falls upon Europe and decide to teach the Europeans a lesson for going along with the US. It could do that by cutting off natural gas, natural gas used by much of Europe to heat homes and firms and run various appliances.

    It is also distinctly possible that the current turn of events could see Russia and others hasten the day when they as a group could cut the cord with the US in terms of economic transactions. The ways they could attempt to do this are very numerous and detailed but would involve the global reserve currency as well as central banking and Internet and other computer networks. The other nations could set up a transaction clearing and settling system that would not run through any system now controlled in either the US or Europe.

    Just how far the various sides in all of this will be willing to go in cutting off their own noses is a huge question that only time will tell.

    We do have political views concerning the prudence of the current direction of the Obama administration in its approach to the Putin administration, but we will attempt to refrain from turning this blog into a battle ground between them.

    If, however, things turn into a hot war between the US and Russia, we may speak directly concerning our views on the lead-up to that and whether such actions were wise.

    The Obama administration announced new, tougher sanctions against Russia on Wednesday, targeting major banks and energy companies, a significant swath of the Russian defense industry, and individuals it said were responsible for the continuing support of separatists battling government forces in eastern Ukraine.

    Add your comment.


  3.    [Recommended] Miami, the great world city, is drowning while the powers that be look away | World news | The Observer

    Here's another politically charged issue: Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). This post is long and not optimistic about our prospects facing global climate-change the result of human carbon burning.

    Low-lying south Florida, at the front line of climate change in the US, will be swallowed as sea levels rise. Astonishingly, the population is growing, house prices are rising and building goes on.

    Add your comment.


  4.    4 things to avoid when buying cash flow real estate | Blog of Real Return Real Estate

    This is a very simple and straightforward post.

    We caution you not to actually buy properties based solely upon rules of thumb. You should dig into actual cost estimates as much as is reasonably possible.

    Add your comment.


  5.    California Halts Injection of Fracking Waste, Warning it May Be Contaminating Aquifers – ProPublica

    California officials have ordered an emergency shut-down of 11 oil and gas waste injection sites and a review more than 100 others in the state's drought-wracked Central Valley out of fear that companies may have been pumping fracking fluids and other toxic waste into drinking water aquifers there.

    The problem is that at least 100 of the state's aquifers were presumed to be useless for drinking and farming because the water was either of poor quality, or too deep underground to easily access. Years ago, the state exempted them from environmental protection and allowed the oil and gas industry to intentionally pollute them. But not all aquifers are exempted, and the system amounts to a patchwork of protected and unprotected water resources deep underground. Now, according to the cease and desist orders issued by the state, it appears that at least seven injection wells are likely pumping waste into fresh water aquifers protected by the law, and not other aquifers sacrificed by the state long ago.

    The exemptions and other failings, said Damon Nagami, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council in an email, are "especially disturbing" in a state that has been keenly aware of severe water constraints for more than a century and is now suffering from a crippling drought. "Our drinking water sources must be protected and preserved for the precious resources they are, not sacrificed as a garbage dump for the oil and gas industry."

    Do you agree with that last statement? Why or why not?

    Add your comment.


  6.    Barn fire destroys 400 tons of hay at Hutterite colony

    A major fire at the Big Stone Hutterite Colony southwest of Great Falls totally destroyed a large hay storage barn and 400-tons of hay Wednesday evening.

    Add your comment.


  7.    State money needed under PG landslide proposal – The Washington Post

    FORT WASHINGTON, Md. — Prince George's County officials have laid out a $15 million plan to shore up the ground in a Fort Washington neighborhood and allow most of the 28 property owners affected by a landslide earlier this year to return home.

    Unfortunately the county has only $11 million to implement the plan.

    Add your comment.


  8.    UPDATE 1-US official warns of lawsuit as BofA mortgage talks stall | Reuters

    A U.S. Department of Justice official on Wednesday issued a thinly veiled threat to Bank of America Corp, saying that banks under investigation for shoddy mortgage securities they sold before the financial crisis must admit to misconduct and pay substantial penalties or face lawsuits from the agency.

    The warning from No. 3 Justice official Tony West comes after a $7 billion settlement with Citigroup Inc earlier this week and as talks with Bank of America Corp have stalled over similar claims.

    Will Bank of America just take the offered (likely small) slap on the wrist?

    Add your comment.


  9.    New Insight on the Nation's Earthquake Hazards | Science Features

    To help make the best decisions to protect communities from earthquakes, new USGS maps display how intense ground shaking could be across the nation.

    The USGS recently updated their U.S. National Seismic Hazard Maps, which reflect the best and most current understanding of where future earthquakes will occur, how often they will occur, and how hard the ground will likely shake as a result.

    42 States at Risk; 16 States at High Risk

    While all states have some potential for earthquakes, 42 of the 50 states have a reasonable chance of experiencing damaging ground shaking from an earthquake in 50 years (the typical lifetime of a building). Scientists also conclude that 16 states have a relatively high likelihood of experiencing damaging ground shaking. These states have historically experienced earthquakes with a magnitude 6 or greater.

    The hazard is especially high along the west coast, intermountain west, and in several active regions of the central and eastern U.S., such as near New Madrid, MO, and near Charleston, SC. The 16 states at highest risk are Alaska, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

    Add your comment.


  10.    AIR Worldwide Releases Updated Severe Thunderstorm Model for the United States – MarketWatch

    AIR Worldwide Releases Updated Severe Thunderstorm Model for the United States

    Industry's First Fully Probabilistic Crop Hail Model for the United States Also Unveiled

    BOSTON, July 16, 2014 – Catastrophe risk modeling firm AIR Worldwide (AIR) announced today that it has updated its Severe Thunderstorm Model for the United States. The comprehensive update to the model features significant enhancements to all three model components: hazard, engineering, and financial. The improvements are based on a decade's worth of new data and scientific research, including damage data collected and analyzed by AIR scientists and engineers following major outbreaks in 2008, 2011, and 2013; approximately USD 3 billion in insurance company claims; and additional analysis of billions of dollars of claims data from AIR sister company Xactware. AIR is a member of the Verisk Insurance Solutions group at Verisk Analytics.

    Add your comment.


  11.    Front doors and selling your home – Imagine Stagers

    It works for rentals too.

    Add your comment.


  12.    Urbanization and the World Most Populated Cities | Sustainable Cities Collective

    One of the reasons I'm so fascinated by cities is that it's becoming increasingly more important to get them right. From about 1831 to 1925, London was the largest city in the world. Its population went from somewhere around 1.5 to 2 million people to nearly 7.5 million. London surpassed Beijing as the largest city and was then surpassed by New York.

    Today our largest cities are significantly bigger. Tokyo has almost 40 million people and London doesn't even make the top 10. But there's also a broader shift taking place. According to a new report by the United Nations, most of the world's largest cities will be in Africa and Asia by 2030. Here's a chart from Quartz:

    Add your comment.


  13.    China's debt-to-GDP level: 200% and counting | The Economist

    …does China face a debt headache? Most certainly. More worrying than the total debt level is the rapid rise. China's credit-to-GDP ratio has risen by 58% since the start of 2009, when banks pumped out a torrent of loans to fund the government's gargantuan stimulus programme. In recent years the government has tried several times to rein in debt, only to back down when it became clear that deleveraging would be painful.

    But the reopening of the lending taps means debt is an even bigger burden for the economy. With credit at 200% of GDP and average financing costs of roughly 7%, Chinese borrowers now need to generate cash-flow growth of 14% to cover their interest payments without eroding their profitability or being forced to borrow yet more. That is a tall order in an economy in which nominal growth is now running at 9%.

    It's more than a tall order.

    Add your comment.


  14.    Warren, McCain: Rein in 'too big to fail' banks – CNN.com

    Senators Elizabeth Warren, John McCain, Maria Cantwell, and Angus King:

    More than five years after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the beginning of the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression, lawmakers should ask themselves whether they have done enough to reduce the risk of another financial crisis. In our view, the answer is no.

    Congress should not wait until the next crisis to address the "too big to fail" problem. Nor should it wait any longer in the hopes that regulators will end this phenomenon themselves. It's been four years since Congress passed, and rulemaking began on, the Dodd-Frank Act. The regulators have so far missed more than half of their statutory rule-making deadlines and many rules remain unwritten.

    We believe that the Glass-Steagall Act should never have been repealed. We were opposed to repealing it at the time and remain unchanged. Repeal was a huge mistake. Deregulation went way overboard and, without doubt, caused the Great Recession.

    Add your comment.


  15.    Officials: 19 of developer's properties lack permits | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com

    After a records search, city officials say 16 additional properties owned by developer Ronnie Boone Sr. lack permits or inspections.

    That brings to 19 the number of Boone-owned properties that may be lacking proper building inspections or occupancy certificates, according to city officials.

    Add your comment.


  16.    China Home Prices Fall in Record Cities, Signaling More Easing – Bloomberg

    China's new-home prices fell in a record number of cities tracked by the government as developers cut prices to boost sales volume, signaling curbs will be relaxed in more cities.

    Prices fell in 55 of the 70 cities last month from May, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement today, the most since January 2011 when the government changed the way it compiles the statistics.

    Prolonging and worsening….

    Add your comment.


  17.    Housing Market In China Posts Sharp Decline Again

    Some believe that the price cuts have just started and that things will get worse. Many buyers will likely wait out until more substantial price cuts are offered. With so many real estate developers sitting on unsold properties, it's a buyers market. Some analysts even believe that the trend of cutting prices could last as long as a year.

    Overall, housing sales nation-wide are down an alarming 9.2 percent, YOY.

    Add your comment.


  18.    Destructive E. Washington fire empties another town | Local & Regional | Seattle News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News | KOMO News

    A massive wildfire that has destroyed at least 100 homes has forced the residents of a second north-central Washington town to leave their homes, and prompted a partial evacuation of a third community, a sheriff said Friday night.

    Officials said Friday the fire known as the Carlton Complex has blackened more than 260 square miles and continues to grow. That size estimate was up dramatically from the prior estimate of 28 square miles.

    Gov. Jay Inslee said about 50 fires were burning in Washington, which has been wracked by hot, dry weather, and gusting winds and lightning. Some 2,000 firefighters were working in the eastern part of the state, with about a dozen helicopters from the Department of Natural Resources and the National Guard, along with a Washington State Patrol spotter plane.

    Fifteen large fires were reported throughout Oregon on Friday, burning across more than 565 square miles of timber, rangeland and grass. Dozens of homes were evacuated as incident management teams and hotshot crews were brought in from at least nine states to supplement Oregon's strained resources.

    Add your comment.


  19.    [163] QE is for the Rich: Jim Bruce & George Magnus talks BIS & Monetary Policy – YouTube

    [@ 4:00] Erin explores the possible effects of Federal Reserve policy with Jim Bruce, who looks at how quantitative easing has benefited the rich and not helped the poor.

    [@ 13:42] Erin talks to George Magnus about the 2014 BIS report to get his thoughts on monetary policy.

    Add your comment.


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