News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Nov. 20, 2014

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) 30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rate Falls Further, Below 4% for Seventh Straight Week – Zillow Blog – Real Estate Market Stats, Celebrity Real Estate, and Zillow News

2) Italy counts costs after extreme weather lets up – GazzettaDelSud

3) Small Plane's Pilot Dead After Crash Into Home Near Chicago's Midway Airport | NBC Chicago

4) Severe storms damage homes, topple trees in SW Alabama | WHNT com

5) Frozen Pipes, Hail Damage And Tree Collapses Most Costly Winter Claims For Homeowners | Business Wire

6) Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning | West Flushing Affordable Housing

7) Exploding wealth inequality in the United States – Washington Center for Equitable Growth

8) Non-Defense Discretionary Programs Have Seen Large Cuts and Face More Cuts in 2015 – Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

9) PRESS RELEASE: Debate on Money Creation in Parliament. Here's why MPs must attend. – Positive Money

10) The Effect of Oil Price Declines on Consumer Prices

11) Winterizing Your Home – Winterization Tips to Save Energy and Money – Popular Mechanics

12) Real estate portals don't need to be brokerages to disrupt brokers | Inman News

13) Office Real Estate: Where Are the Hottest Markets?: Video – Bloomberg

14) Consumer Prices in US Excluding Fuel Rise More Than Forecast – Bloomberg

15) Why Is It So Cold And Snowy In November? Blame Global Warming

16) Hawaiian Village Remains Closed As Lava Flow Continues | Perfect Science

17) Macro policy: "QE is the greatest marketing success in economics history" – YouTube

18) Is a Comeback Story Brewing in Las Vegas? – YouTube

19) World's largest air quality monitoring network to launch in London – YouTube

20) Is Saudi Arabia exploiting ISIS crisis to weaken US and Russia? – YouTube

21) The Power to Create Money in the Hands of the Banks – YouTube

22) S&P sounds warning on Chinese property sector, Russian banks | Reuters

23) Elizabeth Warren Blasts FHFA's Mel Watt: "You Haven't Helped a Single Family" | naked capitalism

  1.    30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rate Falls Further, Below 4% for Seventh Straight Week — Zillow Blog – Real Estate Market Stats, Celebrity Real Estate, and Zillow News

    We are not amazed.

    Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgages at 3.82 percent, down from 3.90 percent at this same time last week.

    The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovered around 3.85 percent for most of the week before falling to the current rate.

    What amazed us was how many "experts" said rates would be above 5 and headed well toward 6 by now.

    The longer we live, the more we return to fundamentals.

    Add your comment.


  2.    Italy counts costs after extreme weather lets up – GazzettaDelSud

    Rome, November 18 – Italy was counting the cost of damage caused by recent extreme weather, particularly in northern regions, as the sun returned to some of the worst-hit areas on Tuesday. Government Secretary Graziano Delrio estimated the price to the State of the weather damage at between three billion euros and four billion euros, and said there would be exemptions on local and regional budget constraints for areas hit by the emergency.

    Add your comment.


  3.    Small Plane's Pilot Dead After Crash Into Home Near Chicago's Midway Airport | NBC Chicago

    A couple was in the bedroom of their home on Chicago's Southwest Side early Tuesday morning when a small plane dove out of the sky and crashed into their home, coming within eight inches of where they were sleeping, Assistant Deputy Fire Commissioner Michael Fox said.

    Add your comment.


  4.    Severe storms damage homes, topple trees in SW Alabama | WHNT.com

    In Washington County, the emergency manager early Monday informed the National Weather Service that homes were damaged and campers overturned and some roads in the area were blocked. Some trees were ripped apart and some trailers were flipped….

    Add your comment.


  5.    Frozen Pipes, Hail Damage And Tree Collapses Most Costly Winter Claims For Homeowners | Business Wire

    HARTFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–An analysis of The Hartford's winter weather claims history finds that frozen pipes, hail damage and tree collapses are the three costliest homeowners' claims. To help homeowners prepare for winter weather, The Hartford analyzed five years of its claims data and surveyed 184 of its property adjusters for their best advice for the season.

    Add your comment.


  6.    Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning | West Flushing Affordable Housing

    In total, the city is looking to upzone 15 neighborhoods to allow for the construction of bigger and taller residential developments. In turn, developers will be required to set aside a portion of the units for affordable housing.

    Add your comment.


  7.    Exploding wealth inequality in the United States – Washington Center for Equitable Growth

    Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman:

    If income inequality stays high and if the saving rate of the bottom 90 percent of families remains low then wealth disparity will keep increasing. Ten or twenty years from now, all the gains in wealth democratization achieved during the New Deal and the post-war decades could be lost. While the rich would be extremely rich, ordinary families would own next to nothing, with debts almost as high as their assets. Paris School of Economics professor Thomas Piketty warns that inherited wealth could become the defining line between the haves and the have-nots in the 21st century. This provocative prediction hit a nerve in the United States this year when Piketty's book "Capital in the 21st Century" became a national best seller because it outlined a direct threat to the cherished American ideals of meritocracy and opportunity.

    What should be done to avoid this dystopian future? We need policies that reduce the concentration of wealth, prevent the transformation of self-made wealth into inherited fortunes, and encourage savings among the middle class. First, current preferential tax rates on capital income compared to wage income are hard to defend in light of the rise of wealth inequality and the very high savings rate of the wealthy. Second, estate taxation is the most direct tool to prevent self-made fortunes from becoming inherited wealth—the least justifiable form of inequality in the American meritocratic ideal.

    Add your comment.


  8.    Non-Defense Discretionary Programs Have Seen Large Cuts and Face More Cuts in 2015 — Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

    … the share of national income going to these programs — in education, science, infrastructure, environment, medical care for veterans, human services, homeland security, and other fields — is rapidly approaching the lowest level (measured as a share of the economy) in at least five decades.

    All this austerity is completely unnecessary. The US government could create the money to pay for all of the programs and without causing hyperinflation.

    Add your comment.


  9.    PRESS RELEASE: Debate on Money Creation in Parliament. Here's why MPs must attend. – Positive Money

    Parliament places huge scrutiny on how taxpayers' money is spent. But for the last 170 years, parliament has ignored the question of how money is created in the first place. This will change on Thursday 20th November when MPs will attend a debate on money creation and society.

    Money creation affects almost every aspect of our lives and is directly connected to almost all public policy, including public and private debt levels, house prices, and rising inequality, but it's very poorly understood. A recent poll found that 7 out of 10 MPs believed that only the government can create money[1], when in fact 97% of money is created by banks when they make loans, as recently confirmed by the Bank of England [2].

    Add your comment.


  10.    The Effect of Oil Price Declines on Consumer Prices

    We can take a more detailed look at how changes in energy prices might affect the nonenergy parts of the CPI by looking at the correlation between the CPI energy index and the indexes for other CPI components. The resulting correlations point to two components that are significantly correlated to energy price swings—food and beverages and housing….

    The volatile nature of oil and energy prices more generally makes it difficult to say how recent oil price movements impact the longer-term outlook for inflation. However, we can gauge the impact that these oil price changes have on the near-term inflation outlook. The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland's inflation nowcasting model provides a daily nowcast of inflation for both the PCE and CPI. The nowcast provides a forecast of the current period's rate of inflation before the official data are released. If we plot recent gas prices along with the daily nowcasts for the CPI, PCE, core CPI, and core PCE, we see that declining oil prices decrease nowcasts for headline CPI and headline PCE, while the core indicators remain steady. Headline CPI and PCE both continue trending downward as gasoline prices continue falling. Core measures, being isolated from direct energy swings, remain around 1.5 percent.

    Add your comment.


  11.    Winterizing Your Home – Winterization Tips to Save Energy and Money – Popular Mechanics

    Try these home winterization tips and hacks to boost your home's energy efficiency this winter. Winterize your house and save money through energy conservation and weatherization.

    5. Turn Down Your Water Heater

    While many conventional water heaters are set to 140 degrees F by installers, most households don't need that much steam, and end up paying for it — in dollars and the occasional scalding burn. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees F (or lower) would reduce your water heating costs by 6% to 10%.

    If you start to wonder why you need a tank at all, then you may be ready for a tankless water heater, or to go solar. If you are in the market for a new water heater, take advantage of the federal tax credit, which pays 30% of the cost for solar water heaters, or up to $1,500 for conventional systems.

    Add your comment.


  12.    Real estate portals don't need to be brokerages to disrupt brokers | Inman News

    While the industry worries about inaccurate listing information on Zillow.com and which brokerage is syndicating or pulling listings from the site on any given day, Zillow is methodically outflanking real estate brokers on a much larger scale.

    Add your comment.


  13.    Office Real Estate: Where Are the Hottest Markets?: Video – Bloomberg

    Cushman & Wakefield's Bruce Mosler discusses the hottest markets for office real estate with Bloomberg's Pimm Fox on "Taking Stock."

    Add your comment.


  14.    Consumer Prices in U.S. Excluding Fuel Rise More Than Forecast – Bloomberg

    Fed's Goal

    The Fed's 2-percent inflation goal is based on the personal consumption expenditures index, the Commerce Department's price gauge that is tied to consumer spending. That measure climbed 1.4 percent in the 12 months through September and hasn't reached the 2-percent level since April 2012.

    The central bankers, who ended an unprecedented monthly asset purchase program in October, still are predicting inflation will move toward that goal as transitory energy price pressures wane, according to their statement at the conclusion of their two-day meeting last month.

    "Although inflation in the near term will likely be held down by lower energy prices and other factors, the Committee judges that the likelihood of inflation running persistently below 2 percent has diminished somewhat since early this year," the officials wrote.
    Fed Minutes

    Nonetheless, minutes of the meeting showed many Fed policy makers thought the central bank should be on the lookout for signs of a decline in expectations for inflation.

    "Many participants observed the committee should remain attentive to evidence of a possible downward shift in longer-term inflation expectations," according to a record of the Oct. 28-29 Federal Open Market Committee meeting released yesterday in Washington. "Some of them noted that if such an outcome occurred, it would be even more worrisome if growth faltered."

    Add your comment.


  15.    Why Is It So Cold And Snowy In November? Blame Global Warming

    The first major Northeastern snowstorm of the season dumped five feet of snow in some areas of upstate New York and record low Nov. 19 temperatures were shattered in many states Tuesday, kicking off what many forecasters say will be a tough winter for much of the country. Shifting weather patterns caused in large part by global warming — which causes changes in air pressure and other dynamics that drive air to flow differently — were a key cause of Tuesday's staggering snowfall in Buffalo and other areas of upstate New York near the Great Lakes, according to Thomas C. Peterson, a principal scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center.

    Add your comment.


  16.    Hawaiian Village Remains Closed As Lava Flow Continues | Perfect Science

    The recent volcanic activity by Hawaiian volcano of Kilauea has allowed a fresh stream of lava to flow for 13.5 miles through Maui's Puna district.

    The experts have estimated that the lava could potentially reach the state highway Route 130. However, no one is sure when the eruption will cover the evacuated village of 1,000 people.

    Add your comment.


  17.    [238] Macro policy: "QE is the greatest marketing success in economics history" – YouTube

    Excellent analysis:

    [@4:04] Erin is joined by Marshall Auerback — director of institutional partnerships at The Institute for New Economic Thinking. In light of the Japanese recession, Marshall tells us if he believes Abenomics was a failure and gives us his take on where they should go from here. He contrasts Japan's plight with an uptick in US economic indicators.

    [@14:20] Erin sits down with Tim Duy — professor of economics at the University of Oregon and author of "Tim Duy's Fed Watch." Tim tells us why he thinks growth in the Eurozone has been so weak and gives us his take on why wages have stagnated in the US despite a relatively healthy economy.

    Where we differ concerns the degree of optimism. We are not nearly as optimistic short- or medium-term.

    Add your comment.


  18.    Is a Comeback Story Brewing in Las Vegas? – YouTube

    As most of the country's apartment market has enjoyed boom times in recent years, Las Vegas has been left behind … until recently. In 3rd quarter, Las Vegas posted some impressive numbers — particularly in rents. Does this suggest renewed optimism moving ahead?

    Add your comment.


  19.    World's largest air quality monitoring network to launch in London – YouTube

    A smart move for London real-estate values:

    Backed by Boris Johnson, the new partnership between CBRE, Change London and and global law firm King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) to help build the world's largest air quality monitoring network.

    Add your comment.


  20.    Is Saudi Arabia exploiting ISIS crisis to weaken US and Russia? – YouTube

    This is very much in line with what we've been openly speculating about on this blog.

    Crude oil prices have plummeted since the Islamic State group began its offensive in Iraq this past summer. Most expected the cost to rise due to potential supply interruptions, but some experts now believe the seeming anomaly may be due to Saudi Arabia manipulating the situation to weaken competitors such as the US and Russia. Marin Katusa of Casey Research explains to RT's Ben Swann.

    Add your comment.


  21.    The Power to Create Money in the Hands of the Banks – YouTube

    The same financial institutions that created the financial crisis are now entrusted with one of the most power tools to shape the economy – and many elected officials have no idea, says Ben Dyson of Positive Money

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttgsL1Yh 2LU

    Add your comment.


  22.    S&P sounds warning on Chinese property sector, Russian banks | Reuters

    Credit rating agency Standard and Poor's said on Wednesday that China's over-priced and over-supplied property market and capital-starved Russian banks were likely to face further downgrades in the coming years.

    Add your comment.


  23.    Elizabeth Warren Blasts FHFA's Mel Watt: "You Haven't Helped a Single Family" | naked capitalism

    We'd like to see Larry Roberts' take on Yves Smith's ripping Mel Watt.

    …the Administration is the real reason borrowers continue to be used to foam the runway for banks.

    Add your comment.


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