News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Nov. 18, 2014

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) The Ultimate 34-Step Property Management Checklist

2) Ethics and Infrastructure by Yannos Papantoniou – Project Syndicate

3) Why inequality is 2015's most worrying trend | The World Economic Forum

4) Cities Use Demolition to Fight Blight | Realtor Magazine

5) What is TLC [True Lifestyle Cost] – YouTube

6) BBC News – The era of global government?

7) A Plutocrats Summit? by Wayne Swan – Project Syndicate

8) Upstart firm sharply cuts commission on home sales | Business & Technology | The Seattle Times

9) US Internet speeds vary wildly state-by-state, US Census Bureau says | General News

10) Bill Black: Financial Regulations In Paralysis – YouTube

11) Improve Your Home Energy Efficiency

12) US Economy: The Disconnect between Reality and Perception | BlackRock Blog | Global Market Intelligence

13) Kansas Announces Big Budget Gap; True Gap May Be Even Larger – NYTimes com

14) Naomi Klein's "Hard-Money" Ideas Undermine Her Laudable Climate Action Goals – New Economic Perspectives

15) DSGE is a plutocratic tool | Real-World Economics Review Blog

16) Revealed: how coalition has helped rich by hitting poor | Politics | The Guardian

17) Spotlight falls on Europe's stuttering economy | Reuters

18) Bank of America Won't Loosen Mortgage Standards, CEO Says – Bloomberg

19) BBC News – Oil prices likely to fall further, says IEA

20) TTIP is about regulatory coherence | VOX, CEPR's Policy Portal

21) China Slowdown Deepens as Targeted Stimulus Fails – Bloomberg

22) Mortgage blog: Banks attempt to defuse Britain's interest-only time bomb | What House | Find your perfect home today

23) Inequality, Unbelievably, Gets Worse – NYTimes com

24) Building collapse in French Quarter frays nerves

25) Number of rental properties available lowest since 2007

26) German Residential Property Prices Rise Most in a Decade – Bloomberg

27) BBC News – Japan's economy makes surprise fall into recession

28) Bank Of England Governor Mark Carney Urges Putting Bankers' 'Fixed Pay At Risk' To Curb Misconduct

29) Ocean warming picks up speed, hits warmest temperatures ever recorded – Chinook Observer

30) Eurozone – lost in stagnation – YouTube

31) All posts published on 'November, 2014' – Backlog Indicator

32) Solar Energy | Mass. Survey Proves (Again) that Home Solar is for All, Not Just the Rich – Solar Energy

33) Is the US Insurance Industry Prepared for Climate Change? – Ceres

34) JACKSON, Miss.: Officials assess fire damage at Miss. Ag Museum | National News | The State

35) Oklahoman says home damaged by Kansas quake

36) Kansans' cost for earthquake insurance is relatively low | The Wichita Eagle

37) Four dead as heavy rains batter north Italy, south Switzerland | Reuters

38) With the foreclosure crisis past, why are foreclosures rising? – OC Housing News

39) Federal Housing Administration back in the black

40) Russian bank risks jump as Europe's halves /Euromoney magazine

41) Europe Headed for a Japanese-Style Lost Decade: Green: Video – Bloomberg

42) Corruption is a first world problem, too – Forum:Blog Forum:Blog | The World Economic Forum

43) Paying the bills is Americans' top financial priority – CBS News

44) Japan PM calls snap election, delays sales tax hike

45) Growing Risk in the Insurance Sector – Economic Policy Papers – Publications & Papers | The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

46) Measuring Labor Market Slack: Are the Long-Term Unemployed Different?

47) Why the Great Recession may be with us for years – CBS News

  1.    The Ultimate 34-Step Property Management Checklist

    The Ultimate 34-Step Property Management Checklist

    19. Office process & checklist:

    Make a copy of all Lease Signing Documents and mail to tenant within a week, so they have a copy of everything they initialed and signed

    In our view, the rental-agreement documents should be done in at least triplicate with all original (wet) signatures. The tenant(s) should be given one, full set of the original, executed documents at the time of execution, not be asked to wait for photocopies. What's your opinion on this?

    Add your comment.


  2.    Ethics and Infrastructure by Yannos Papantoniou – Project Syndicate

    The failed economic ideology (austerity) of German leadership is the problem. Yannos Papantoniou:

    …whatever the merits of Germany's commitment to "moral" economic behavior, its stance on fiscal discipline in the eurozone remains dubious. After all, what the eurozone needs now is not to save its weaker economies from default or even to boost long-term growth; rather, it needs to recover lost output and employment, particularly in the southern countries — goals that neither fiscal austerity nor structural reforms can achieve on its own.

    In fact, fiscal austerity directly undermines these objectives, depressing demand and discouraging growth. And structural reforms have very limited bearing on short-run performance.

    …accelerating public investment must be a key feature of a comprehensive strategy for economic recovery in Europe. Given that it is less controversial than unconventional monetary policies, and will take longer to produce results, it should be given top priority.

    It simply is not true that reforms cannot be made without austerity. The problem with those pushing austerity is that they want regressive reforms that hurt those who are less well-off while benefiting those who are already well-off and who caused the problems in the first place.

    Add your comment.


  3.    Why inequality is 2015's most worrying trend – Forum:Blog Forum:Blog | The World Economic Forum

    Greater income- and wealth-equality is good for business. Amina Mohammed:

    Addressing inequality is good for business as it creates a new demographic of consumers, thus widening the market for profits and services and increasing profit opportunities, especially for women. Efforts to reduce inequalities and achieve inclusion are a multistakeholder responsibility which will require concerted action at all levels, from local to national, and regional to global.

    Add your comment.


  4.    Cities Use Demolition to Fight Blight | Realtor Magazine

    A deconstruction movement is brewing across U.S. cities, in an effort to combat neighborhood blight and keep dilapidated homes from hampering nearby home prices. Instead of repairing or rebuilding abandoned or foreclosed homes, some cities are taking the bold move to demolish them, paving the way for more open space and parks.

    Add your comment.


  5.    What is TLC [True Lifestyle Cost] – YouTube

    Here's an explanation: Andrea V. Brambila:

    The costs of owning a home extend way beyond monthly mortgage payments. Property taxes, utility bills and commuting expenses are just a few of the other factors that affect the true cost of living in a particular home.

    Add your comment.


  6.    BBC News – The era of global government?

    When I asked Australians about what they expect from the G20, the answer that I heard most was that the leaders should address climate change, political instability such as the Ukraine and the Islamic State, and public health challenges like Ebola. There was a uniform expression of surprise when they then heard that the agenda was focused on growth, global governance of issues such as taxation, trade liberalisation, etc. In other words, pure economic issues.

    Can economics be separated from politics or public health? The leaders of the labour and civil society groups don't think so.

    From what we've read, Ukraine and IS were raised in multiple side-conversations (especially Ukraine).

    Also, Linda Yueh posted an update where she states the following: "…after US President Obama mentioned the urgency of dealing with climate change at a speech in Brisbane before the summit, it's unsurprising that it was discussed after all.

    "Ebola is also in the final statement.

    "So, the G20 didn't just focus on the purely economic issues. I wrote before about how most of these issues are linked to the world economy in any case."

    Add your comment.


  7.    A Plutocrats Summit? by Wayne Swan – Project Syndicate

    Wayne Swan:

    At an official dinner in Washington, DC, ahead of November's G-20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia-born media mogul Rupert Murdoch lectured ministers on the dangers of socialism and big government. A fervent opponent of Australia's carbon price, and a battle-hardened opponent of US President Barack Obama, Murdoch lauded the virtues of austerity and minimal regulation, and railed against the corrosive effects of social safety nets.

    Murdoch's comments are in keeping with views expressed by his friend, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and Abbott's current administration. In January, for example, Abbott informed a startled Davos conference that the global financial crisis was caused not by unregulated global markets, but rather by too much governance. This was certainly news to the finance ministers who had spent the past few years struggling with the toxic fallout from financial-sector excess.

    Structural reforms, in which certain interests are sacrificed for the greater good, will always be controversial and difficult to execute. But when such reforms involve sacrifices by ordinary citizens and benefit society's most privileged groups, political gridlock and instability invariably follow.

    Over the past two years, academics, regulators, economists, and financial institutions have all linked the secular stagnation in demand with greater income inequality. It is ironic that, at a time when many in the developing world are entering, or aspire to enter, the emerging middle class, wealth in much of the developed world is becoming more concentrated at the top.

    With just days to go until the Brisbane meeting, the G-20 is ignoring the main long-term threats to the global economy. As the Bank of England's Governor Mark Carney (who I assume also heard Murdoch's lecture) remarked earlier this year, "[U]nchecked market fundamentalism can devour the social capital essential for the long-term dynamism of capitalism itself." IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde recently put it more starkly, noting that the world's 85 richest people control more wealth than the world's 3.5 billion poorest people, and that this degree of inequality is casting a dark shadow over the global economy.

    Inequality is not a fringe issue. Combating its rise is essential to achieving sustainable economic growth and political stability.

    We wholeheartedly agree with Wayne Swan.

    Add your comment.


  8.    Upstart firm sharply cuts commission on home sales | Business & Technology | The Seattle Times

    Commission war:

    In a bid to disrupt the real-estate industry, Seattle brokerage Surefield is slashing the total commission its customers will pay to sell their homes from 6 percent to 1.5 percent.

    Add your comment.


  9.    US Internet speeds vary wildly state-by-state, US Census Bureau says | General News

    New data from the US Census Bureau has determined that high-speed Internet access can vary widely from state to state.

    We wished they would have defined "high-speed."

    Is this something you consider when investing?

    Add your comment.


  10.    Bill Black: Financial Regulations In Paralysis – YouTube

    Bill Black knows banks.

    … The U.S. attorney general has not begun a single investigation of criminal behavior by top management at major multinational banks. Seemingly there's no real punishment for major misbehavior in the financial markets anymore.

    In this interview, Black names names and highlights the extent of the government's complicity in extending this disgraceful state of affairs.

    Add your comment.


  11.    Improve Your Home Energy Efficiency

    Improving energy efficiency is a great home improvement goal. …

    1. Improve Energy Efficiency with Insulation

    2. Windows, Doors, and Home Energy Efficiency

    3. HVAC and Other Appliances

    4. Energy Conservation Habits

    Add your comment.


  12.    U.S. Economy: The Disconnect between Reality and Perception | BlackRock Blog | Global Market Intelligence

    Russ Koesterich, Chief Investment Strategist for BlackRock and iShares Chief Global Investment Strategist:

    While the economy is growing faster and more jobs are being created, with the exception of a relatively small subset of highly skilled workers, wage growth is not accelerating in any meaningful way. Although overall compensation, including benefits, ticked up in the last two quarters, wage growth remains sluggish. Hourly wages have been stuck at around 2% year-over-year despite faster job growth.

    That's all part of why the Fed will not be raising interests rates very soon. The Fed will wait until wages are rising enough to put pressure on prices (not investment securities called assets).

    Add your comment.


  13.    Kansas Announces Big Budget Gap; True Gap May Be Even Larger – NYTimes.com

    For conservatives, a lower revenue estimate would be embarrassing, because it shows the Brownback tax cuts were much more costly than advertised.

    We'll watch to see how things turn out, though we already figure the tax cuts were ill-timed.

    Add your comment.


  14.    Naomi Klein's "Hard-Money" Ideas Undermine Her Laudable Climate Action Goals – New Economic Perspectives

    This is fantastic. We couldn't agree more. Michael Hoexter:

    Klein's Hard-Money Fetishism is a Political Dead-End

    Given that the financial operations of currency issuing governments are a focus among those who analyze economies with the help of Modern Money Theory like myself, some might interpret the above as nit-picking or smart-alec Besserwisserei ("knowing better" as a noun in German) based on seemingly arcane economic theoretical differences. However the political and therefore real-world consequences of Klein's erroneous beliefs about money, transmitted to tens of thousands via her influence, are potentially catastrophic in their effect upon climate action as well as exceedingly dire in the fight against economic and social inequality. To hold only hard-money beliefs as climate activists is to almost certainly organize the defeat of rapid climate action, and, for that matter, the goals of other social movements for realizing the general public good that one might champion.

    The notion of politically and economically "going through" the fossil fuel industries is entirely unrealistic and diverts the political energies of activists into a narrow channel that is of marginal importance to building the future. The whaling industry in the United States was not curtailed by anti-whaling activists throwing themselves in front of whaling ships but by the discovery of oil and the use of fossil fuels instead of whale oil for light. Though we are on a more rigid timeline than the decline of whaling in the US, the fossil fuel industry may be slowed by anti-fossil fuel activism but ultimately public and private investment in non-fossil fuel dependent technologies and infrastructure systems will be the resolution and also terminally weaken the economic and, eventually, political power of the fossil fuel industries. Anti-fossil fuel infrastructure activism, like against the Keystone XL pipeline is a good rallying point but it must be paired with an achi evable exit strategy from fossil fuel dependence. Demand and supply must be addressed simultaneously in movement politics.

    Add your comment.


  15.    DSGE is a plutocratic tool | Real-World Economics Review Blog

    We really like reading smart writing. Peter Radford:

    …GE [General Equilibrium] is a parallel to Marxist theory: they both posit the ultimate extinction of politics from economic allocation.

    Both are idealist illusions presented to us to divert our attention from the growth and meaning of democracy.

    …just as the history of democracy is the extension of inclusion, the history of market magic economics is its counterbalance. It is the history of exclusion. It is a defense of the plutocracy via an attempt to neuter the role of government as an active economic agent.

    "We the people" is a concept that undoes the pretense, however elegant its math may be, of any theories sitting atop that defense.

    We the people assert the right to interfere in the allocative outcomes of the economic process. Indeed we are the active agents within that process. Are we not?

    Add your comment.


  16.    Revealed: how coalition has helped rich by hitting poor | Politics | The Guardian

    Of course:

    A landmark study of the coalition's tax and welfare policies six months before the general election reveals how money has been transferred from the poorest to the better off, apparently refuting the chancellor of the exchequer's claims that the country has been "all in it together".

    According to independent research to be published on Monday and seen by the Observer, George Osborne has been engaged in a significant transfer of income from the least well-off half of the population to the more affluent in the past four years. Those with the lowest incomes have been hit hardest.

    In an intervention that will come as a major blow to the government's claim to have shared out the burden of austerity equally, the report by economists at the London School of Economics and the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex finds that:

    …the transfer of funds from the poorest half of the country to the more affluent did not contribute to deficit reduction.

    It says: "The revenue gains from some tax changes and benefit cuts were offset by the cost of tax reductions, particularly the increase in the income tax personal allowance."

    That was the point: say you're doing one thing while knowing full well that the outcome will benefit your economic class while harming others.

    Add your comment.


  17.    Spotlight falls on Europe's stuttering economy | Reuters

    (Reuters) – As large parts of Europe's economy grind almost to a halt, attention will focus this week on the latest assessments of business confidence in the euro zone and Germany, which has just narrowly avoided a recession.

    Add your comment.


  18.    Bank of America Won't Loosen Mortgage Standards, CEO Says – Bloomberg

    Bank of America Corp., which paid more in legal settlements tied to the U.S. housing collapse than any other company, will avoid easing mortgage standards even as regulators seek to expand lending, Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan said.

    "You won't see us start to expand our criteria much past what we've done today," Moynihan, 55, said at a New York investor conference sponsored by Bank of America. "I don't think there's a big incentive for us start to try to create more mortgage availability where the customers are susceptible to default."

    Good thinking.

    Add your comment.


  19.    BBC News – Oil prices likely to fall further, says IEA

    …there have been reports that Saudi Arabia, Opec's key member, is not yet willing to turn off the taps. Opec members are due to meet on 27 November to discuss the supply and demand issues.

    Add your comment.


  20.    TTIP is about regulatory coherence | VOX, CEPR's Policy Portal

    Lionel Fontagné, Sébastien Jean:

    Size is not what you think

    Much has been said about the size of the two economies which together account for almost half of world GDP and a third of world trade. However, the TTIP is to some extent a desperate attempt by both the EU and the US to retain as much as possible their leadership in world trade.

    • Strictly speaking, TTIP would only affect bilateral trade between the EU and the US, which in 2011 represented 4.4% of world trade.

    Indeed, the EU-US share in world trade has declined sharply in this century. This is to be compared with the corresponding figure for the ASEAN+6 countries of 16%.

    • On current trends, the EU and the US would jointly account for only 22% of world trade in 2035, compared to 37% for ASEAN+6, and trade between ASEAN+6 members (17%) would dwarf that between transatlantic partners (2.4%).

    TTIP will not reverse this….

    Add your comment.


  21.    China Slowdown Deepens as Targeted Stimulus Fails – Bloomberg

    Credit growth in China weakened last month, adding to signs that the world's second-largest economy slowed further this quarter and testing policy makers' determination to avoid broader stimulus measures.

    "Sluggish domestic demand and risk-aversion among commercial banks dragged credit growth," said Zhou Hao, a Shanghai-based economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. "Disappointing monetary data suggest overall growth will remain soft in the last quarter."

    "While a lag is possible, generally I believe that targeted easing so far are not effective enough to support China's slowing growth momentum,'said Shen Jianguang, chief Asia economist at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd. in Hong Kong. Shen said he expected conventional instruments such as RRR or interest rate cuts as soon as December.

    Despite recent liquidity injections, the PBOC is "seeking to keep credit growth on a downward trajectory," said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics Ltd. "The central bank's current targeted approach remains consistent with its goal of keeping borrowing costs low while at the same time addressing credit risks and slowing the pace of overall credit growth."

    Add your comment.


  22.    Mortgage blog: Banks attempt to defuse Britain's interest-only time bomb | What House | Find your perfect home today.

    Plans to tackle Britain's interest-only mortgage time bomb are set to see several major banks offer tailored deals to borrowers in their 50s and 60s who face a shortfall when their mortgage term ends.
    Lifetime mortgages set to allow older borrowers to stay in their homes

    Under the scheme, lenders will allow customers to repay just the interest on their debts until they die if they agree to hand the keys to the property over to the bank, rather than to a family member, when they die.

    It's renting after losing all equity.

    Add your comment.


  23.    Inequality, Unbelievably, Gets Worse – NYTimes.com

    Steven Rattner:

    …once the effect of government programs is included in the calculations, the United States emerges on top of the inequality heap.

    Critics from the right argue that doing more to level the income pyramid would hurt growth. In a recent paper, the International Monetary Fund dismissed that concern and suggested that a more equal distribution of income could instead raise the growth rate because of the added access to education, health care and other opportunities.

    Add your comment.


  24.    Building collapse in French Quarter frays nerves

    NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The collapse of a 210-year-old building in the heart of the French Quarter is raising warning flags about decay and a lack of rigorous inspections in one of America's oldest and most fragile neighborhoods.

    Add your comment.


  25.    Number of rental properties available lowest since 2007

    Fewer than 5,400 properties were available to rent nationwide on November 1st, the lowest number since 2007, according to a quarterly report from property website Daft.ie.

    And there were fewer than 27,000 properties listed to rent in Dublin in the first nine months of this year, compared to more than 47,000 in the same period in 2011. The report also found rents have risen more than 11 per cent in the past 12 months, with average rent now at €933 a month.

    Add your comment.


  26.    German Residential Property Prices Rise Most in a Decade – Bloomberg

    German home prices rose at the fastest rate in at least 10 years in the third quarter as investors bought apartment buildings at a time when low interest rates make other investments less attractive.

    Values climbed 5.2 percent from a year earlier, with multifamily houses gaining 7.2 percent, according to an index published today by the VDP Association of German Pfandbrief Banks. Prices for owner-occupied condominiums gained 2.6 percent as momentum in that market slowed following bigger gains in the previous three years.

    Apartment buildings "continue to be sought after by institutional and private investors alike," said Jens Tolckmitt, VDP's chief executive officer. "The very low interest rate and the resulting search for attractive yields on investment support this trend."

    Add your comment.


  27.    BBC News – Japan's economy makes surprise fall into recession

    Hardly unexpected:

    Japan's economy unexpectedly shrank for the second consecutive quarter, leaving the world's third largest economy in technical recession.

    Gross domestic product (GDP) fell at an annualised 1.6% from July to September, compared with forecasts of a 2.1% rise.

    That followed a revised 7.3% contraction in the second quarter, which was the biggest fall since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

    Economists said the weak economic data could delay a sales tax rise.

    It will.

    Add your comment.


  28.    Bank Of England Governor Mark Carney Urges Putting Bankers' 'Fixed Pay At Risk' To Curb Misconduct

    Mark Carney is growing on us.

    In order to reduce "excessive risk-taking and misconduct by staff" new rules might be needed to link bankers' fixed pay to future banking industry fines, Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England (BoE) said on Monday. His statements come just days after a number of major global banks were fined a total of over $3 billion for the attempted manipulation of benchmark rates in foreign exchange markets.

    "Standards may need to be developed to put non-bonus or fixed pay at risk. That could potentially be achieved through payment in instruments other than cash," he said. "Senior manager accountability and new compensation structures will help to rebuild trust in financial institutions."

    Carney cited a proposal by William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in which the latter reportedly suggested the creation of a "performance bond" for senior officials so that when regulatory fines are levied against a bank, a "sizeable portion" is deducted from the compensation offered to these senior managers.

    Add your comment.


  29.    Ocean warming picks up speed, hits warmest temperatures ever recorded – Chinook Observer

    University of Hawaii study suggests that rapid warming of ocean has resumed after decade-plus pause

    PACIFIC OCEAN — This summer saw the highest global mean sea surface temperatures ever recorded since systematic measuring started, University of Hawai?i at Manoa researchers said last week.

    Temperatures exceeded those of the record-breaking 1998 El Niño year, according to the analysis of recent climate data by University of Hawai?i at Manoa Professor Axel Timmermann, a climate scientist studying variability of the global climate system at the International Pacific Research Center.

    Add your comment.


  30.    Eurozone — lost in stagnation – YouTube

    The eurozone returned to growth with a better than expected 0.2% expansion in Q3. Ferdinando Giugliano and Christopher Thompson, discuss how despite some good news from the bloc's periphery, the European Central Bank may need to deploy new monetary weapons to stave off the risk of a 'lost decade'.

    Add your comment.


  31.    All posts published on 'November, 2014' — Backlog Indicator

    Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Construction Backlog Indicator (CBI) reached a new all-time high during the third quarter of 2014 at 8.8 months, eclipsing the previous all-time high of 8.5 months in the second quarter of 2014. The 2014 third quarter backlog is 6.9 percent higher than the third quarter of 2013 and the continued growth of backlog during the last six months likely indicates that 2015 will be a strong year of recovery for the nation's nonresidential construction industry.

    Well, we really need to see higher wages and more hours for this to be sustainable. We're also all up in the air waiting to see what the Saudis do regarding global oil prices.

    We're for a post-carbon economy, but we also know that going cold turkey before society has ramped up alternative sources enough will crush the economy.

    We believe fracking is a decidedly bad idea for a whole host of reasons, but we must state here that Saudi pressure on oil prices will be a double-edged sword. It will harm the US oil industry while making fuel cheaper for the rest of the US economy: good and bad news mixed together even while we want an end to fracking as soon as possible.

    Add your comment.


  32.    Solar Energy | Mass. Survey Proves (Again) that Home Solar is for All, Not Just the Rich – Solar Energy

    In Massachusetts, solar power is truly the people's power, according to a recent survey from New England Clean Energy (PDF). The small but telling study of NECE customers found that 67 percent of its 250 respondents pulled down less than $150,000 a year, while only 13 percent earned over $200,000 or more. More than a third earned under $100,000, and 10 percent earned under $50,000, illustrating quite clearly that solarization in Massachusetts — "with or without financing," NECE noted — isn't just a one-percenter phenomenon. Home solar is for everyone, especially the middle class.

    Add your comment.


  33.    Is the U.S. Insurance Industry Prepared for Climate Change? — Ceres

    2012 was the warmest year on record in the lower 48 states and the second most extreme weather year in United States history. Insurers are increasingly acknowledging that extreme weather has become the new normal, yet a new report from Ceres finds that many in the industry are only just beginning to think about how to address the effects climate change may have on their business — while a small group of companies is leading the way.

    Add your comment.


  34.    JACKSON, Miss.: Officials assess fire damage at Miss. Ag Museum | National News | The State

    JACKSON, Miss. — A two-alarm fire at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum was believed to have started in a barn, but fire investigators were sifting through the charred debris to determine the exact cause, fire officials said Friday.

    Add your comment.


  35.    Oklahoman says home damaged by Kansas quake

    Enid resident Roy Semrad, who lives about 80 miles south of where the temblor struck, says his home sustained foundation damage, has ceiling tiles out of place and gaps in the walls, among other damage.

    Add your comment.


  36.    Kansans' cost for earthquake insurance is relatively low | The Wichita Eagle

    Wednesday's quake was the 131st in Kansas this year. The previous record was last year, 32 quakes, including one of 4.3 magnitude.

    In the 35 years before that, the state averaged 5.5 quakes a year, none bigger than a 4 magnitude.

    Seismologists are bringing in more equipment to study why southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma have been hit with a rash of earthquakes in the past couple of years after decades of seismic tranquility. Some evidence points to oil and gas production activities.

    We believe it's the fracking.

    Add your comment.


  37.    Four dead as heavy rains batter north Italy, south Switzerland | Reuters

    Four people died when mudslides hit their homes in the border area between Italy and Switzerland overnight on Saturday, and a fifth was missing near the Italian port city of Genoa after days of torrential rains and flooding.

    Add your comment.


  38.    With the foreclosure crisis past, why are foreclosures rising? – OC Housing News

    Larry Roberts:

    The foreclosure crisis never ended, it was merely delayed by lender can-kicking. Bankers designed policies to promote loan modification over foreclosure, specifically to drive down the reported delinquency rates. Further, HUD sold off non-performing loans to hedge funds that don't report their delinquencies, which also lowers the reported rate.

    Add your comment.


  39.    Federal Housing Administration back in the black

    After bleeding cash for the past two years, the government insurer of home loans, the Federal Housing Administration, is now seeing significant gains in its insurance fund and will no longer need emergency cash. It is not, however, lowering the cost of an FHA loan for consumers.

    It needs to be extremely careful about lowering lending standards again.

    Add your comment.


  40.    Russian bank risks jump as Europe's halves /Euromoney magazine

    The article starts out discussing Russia, but we found the following as, or more, salient. Regardless, Russia and Germany are both being harmed by sanctions against Russia.

    Michael Rockinger, of CRML, says: "There are signs systemic risk are rising in some European countries. French and Italian banks have seen rapid increases in capitalization during 2014 of 23% and 14% respectively compared to much more modest increases in the UK and Switzerland. In Germany, there has actually been a reduction in capitalization."

    Deutsche Bank continues to be the riskiest bank in Europe with an SRisk rating of €70 billion, followed by BNP, Barclays, Crédit Agricole and Société Générale.

    Add your comment.


  41.    Europe Headed for a Japanese-Style Lost Decade: Green: Video – Bloomberg

    Manulife Asset Management Chief Economist Megan Greene discusses the biggest threats to global growth, the state of the Euro Zone recovery and the recession in Japan with Bloomberg's Mark Barton, Anna Edwards and Manus Cranny on "Countdown."

    Add your comment.


  42.    Corruption is a first world problem, too – Forum:Blog Forum:Blog | The World Economic Forum

    Poor countries have highly visible corruption, mostly because of underdeveloped governance frameworks and lax judicial systems. Rich countries may have more robust structures, but the forms of corruption within them are more sophisticated. In many ways this sophistication is more insidious, as it supports graft in emerging markets.

    Add your comment.


  43.    Paying the bills is Americans' top financial priority – CBS News

    Close to 12 million U.S. adults, or 5.3 percent of Americans with a credit file, have nonmortgage debt at least 30 days past due. And to become current on that debt, those folks need to pay, on average, more than $2,200.

    Meanwhile, 77 million people, or more than one-third of American adults with credit files, also have some sort of debt in collections, to the tune of over $5,100 on average.

    Add your comment.


  44.    Japan PM calls snap election, delays sales tax hike

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called a snap election on Tuesday, and announced a delay in the second sales tax hike by 18 months after the country fell into recession.

    Well, the snap election idea is a mistake as is simply delaying the tax hike. He should have said the tax-hike idea is dead. In fact, he should have said that the earlier hike would be reversed while announcing more stimulus.

    So called "restructuring" should not come until the economy has been revved up for at least a year.

    Add your comment.


  45.    Growing Risk in the Insurance Sector – Economic Policy Papers – Publications & Papers | The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

    The financial crisis of 2008 exposed important vulnerabilities in the banking sector. In its aftermath, considerable academic effort has been devoted to better understanding banking risks, and policymakers around the world are developing new regulations to contain those risks.

    Our recent and ongoing work shows that there are also important risks in the insurance sector. Although these risks have been growing rapidly over the past 15 years, they have received relatively little attention from academics and regulators. If unaddressed, these risks could cause severe problems. Insurance is a large share of the financial sector. For example, U.S. life insurance liabilities amounted to $4.1 trillion in 2012, compared to $7 trillion in U.S. savings deposits. Moreover, as the largest institutional investors in the corporate bond market, insurance companies serve an important role in real investment and economic activity.

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  46.    Measuring Labor Market Slack: Are the Long-Term Unemployed Different?

    Rob Dent, Samuel Kapon, Fatih Karahan, Benjamin W. Pugsley, and Aysegül Sahin:

    …we find that long-term unemployed workers are not less attached to the labor market than short-term unemployed workers. If anything, the long-term unemployed group has the largest share of prime-age workers, the age group likely to have the strongest labor force attachment. We also see that long-term unemployment is an economy-wide phenomenon, spread across industries and occupations. While there may be unobservable characteristics of long-term unemployed workers that make them less attached to the labor force, when looking at their observable characteristics, it's hard to argue that they should not be considered as part of labor market slack.

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  47.    Why the Great Recession may be with us for years – CBS News

    Mark Thoma:

    …shocks are not fully reversed over time as economists have long believed. What does that mean in practice? In the job market, it could mean that the long-term unemployed never find work.

    If the Fed researchers are correct, that has enormous implications for what might be necessary to help the U.S. economy get back on track. Government policies to maintain employment — by modernizing the country's aging roads, bridges and other infrastructure, for example — may avoid some of the permanent effects of the cataclysm that followed the 2008 financial crisis.

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If you are an investor in 1-4 unit properties in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, or Washington, please do the financially responsible thing and make sure you have proper Landlord Insurance with PropertyPak™. We love focusing on real estate and the economy in general, but we are also here to serve your insurance needs.

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Note: This blog does not provide legal, financial, or accounting advice. Seek professional counsel.

Furthermore, we, as insurance producers, are prohibited by law from disparaging the insurance industry, carriers, other producers, etc. With that in mind, we provide links without staking out positions that violate the law. We provide them solely from a public-policy standpoint wherein we encourage our industry to be sure our profits, etc., are fair and balanced.

We do not necessarily fact checked the contents of every linked article or page, etc.

If we were to conclude any part or parts of our industry are in violation of fundamental fairness and the legal standards of a state or states, we'd address the issue through proper, legal channels. We trust you understand.

The laws that tie our tongues, so to speak, are designed to keep the public from losing confidence in the industry and the regulatory system overseeing it. Insurance commissioners around the country work very hard to analyze rates and to not allow the industry to be damaged by bad rate-settings and changes in coverages. The proper way for people in the industry to deal with such matters is by adhering to the laws, rules, and regulations of the applicable states and within industry associations where such matters may be discussed in private without giving the industry unnecessary black eyes. Ethics is very high on the list in the insurance industry, and we don't want to lose the people's trust. That said, the industry is not perfect; but what industry is?

For our part, we believe in strong regulations and strong regulators.

We welcome your comments and ask you to keep in mind that we cannot and will not reply in any way or ways where any insurance commissioner could rightly say we've violated the law of the given state.

We are allowed to share rating-bureau data/reports and industry-consultant opinions but make clear here that those opinions are theirs and do not necessarily reflect our position.

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