News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Jan. 22, 2015

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) EU Showdown: Greece Takes on the Vampire Squid – Public Banking Institute

2) Myrtle Beach-area representatives file HOA bill to address issues and concerns | Real Estate | MyrtleBeachOnlinecom

3) Coastal community breaks ground on tsunami-proof school | KOMO News

4) Experts say rate of earthquakes in Oklahoma steadies in 2014 – Washington Times

5) Kansas Geological Survey links earthquakes to fracking waste disposal | The Wichita Eagle

6) Tennessee man pleads guilty in Rhode Island arson scheme – KAIT Jonesboro, AR

7) Official: Relatives believe family was in mansion for fire – WTOP

8) QE and central bank solvency | Jérémie Cohen-Setton at Bruegelorg

9) Europe Needs a Real Industrial Policy | Sparse Thoughts of a Gloomy European Economist

10) Smart Urbanism and India Development | Sustainable Cities Collective

11) Japan's Fiscal Situation Is Not As Bad As Many Assume

12) Investors keen about global real estate; Tokyo top destination in 2015 – survey | South China Morning Post

13) Housing market heat tipped to cool, NAB survey shows | The Australian

14) Yen Rises as BOJ Retains Stimulus Plan; Aussie Gains – Bloomberg

15) Neighbors' complaints to 311 over Airbnb are on the rise | New York Post

16) When zero is not enough – YouTube

17) Martin Wolf on China's premier Li Keqiang – YouTube

18) Daryl Carter – Trends in Workforce Housing – YouTube

19) Energy Investments for Disaster Resilience – YouTube

  1.    EU Showdown: Greece Takes on the Vampire Squid – Public Banking Institute

    Ellen Brown:

    Greece can regain its sovereignty by defaulting on its debt, abandoning the ECB and the euro, and issuing its own national currency (the drachma) through its own central bank. But that would destabilize the eurozone and might end in its breakup.

    Will the troika take that risk? 2015 is shaping up to be an interesting year.

    We disagree with the Goldman memo concerning whether or not Greece could create sufficient euros via commercial lending within Greece, including to the government; otherwise, we love Ellen's article.

    Watch the Eurozone bankers outside Greece close the hole we just mentioned if the Greek banks attempt to use it. Closing it would violate the eurozone monetary system in principle, but they'd do it anyway to save neoliberalism (the stranglehold of the bondholder system over all government).

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  2.    Myrtle Beach-area representatives file HOA bill to address issues and concerns | Real Estate | MyrtleBeachOnline.com

    …a wide-ranging HOA bill that would address many of the concerns residents have about homeowners associations.

    The bill would — among other things — limit the time developers could keep absolute control over subdivisions they build; set magistrates court as the venue where homeowner/association disputes can be addressed; require that association and board member names and contact information be registered with the S.C. Real Estate Commission; and provide for open meetings and records.

    Add your comment.


  3.    Coastal community breaks ground on tsunami-proof school | KOMO News

    WESTPORT, Wash. — Ground was broken this week on a tsunami-proof school building on the coast at Westport. It is the first of its kind in North America.

    School children helped with groundbreaking using clam guns and shovels for the building of the new 30-foot tall gymnasium that will double as a safe haven in the case of a tsunami.

    "tsunami-proof"? It depends upon the tsunami. The article doesn't say the elevation where the school is.

    We aren't sure it should have said "better yet" concerning getting to a tall structure rather than higher ground without explaining the time it would take to get to high enough ground depending upon the warning time.

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  4.    Experts say rate of earthquakes in Oklahoma steadies in 2014 – Washington Times

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – After increasing rapidly over the past three years, the pace of earthquakes in Oklahoma held steady in 2014 at a rate higher than California and far higher than the historic average in Oklahoma.

    Oklahoma experienced 567 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater in 2014, up from 209 in 2013. The state had averaged about 40 a year for the previous five years and less than five a year before that.

    "We're continuing to get more and more inquiries," Doak said. "Gov. Fallin and I have worked together to ensure insurance agents throughout the state now have one hour of continuing education dedicated to earthquake insurance. We've found that has been helping. Now licensed brokers are talking about it, and they're going back and learning about the policies."

    Consumers interested in adding earthquake insurance should speak to their agents and fully read the policies, Doak said.

    "Earthquake insurance is affordable and accessible, but you need to understand the terms and conditions in the policy," he said. "Each policy has different factors. Some things are covered and others are not covered."

    Part of the problem of seeking to determine a cause of the increased activity is that existing earthquake models are based on naturally occurring earthquakes and do not include induced seismically. Researchers still are trying to determine whether or to what extent man-made activity is contributing to the state's seismic activity.

    "There have been occurrences not just in the state, but across the country, where we've seen induced seismology," Teague said. "We've seen correlations with injection wells in Ohio and Arkansas, but we haven't seen that tight correlation in Oklahoma. That's absolutely one of the struggles."

    Some studies have connected earthquake activity in Oklahoma and other parts of the country to water injection wells used to dispose of water produced along with oil and natural gas. The average o il well in Oklahoma produces about 10 barrels of saltwater for every barrel of oil. For at least 70 years, the oil and natural gas industry has pumped the produced water deep below ground through water disposal wells.

    As lower oil prices drive more producers out of the market, especially frackers, watch the number of earthquakes go down right along with that. There will still be those who claim that there's no proof of causation. The insurance industry won't react that way though, because they actually have more money to lose if they go along with the pro-fracking propaganda.

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  5.    Kansas Geological Survey links earthquakes to fracking waste disposal | The Wichita Eagle

    LAWRENCE — The disposal of waste saltwater from hydraulic fracturing could be to blame for a sharp increase in earthquakes in south-central Kansas, according to a geophysicist with the Kansas Geological Survey.

    Rick Miller's comments are the first by a state official to clearly suggest a link between hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, and the earthquakes that have rattled the area in the last two years, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.

    During hydraulic fracturing, a mixture of saltwater and chemicals pumped into the ground to break up rock formations and release oil and gas. Operators then inject the waste water deep into disposal wells.

    "We can say there is a strong correlation between the disposal of saltwater and the earthquakes," Miller said.

    "If the government and the Kansas Corporation Commission care about the people of Kansas and the damages, they will order a moratorium," Spease said. "If they only care about the profits of the oil and gas (industry), it will be business as usual. I hope that is not the case."

    The earthquakes are one thing while pollution is another. It's a double whammy.

    Add your comment.


  6.    Tennessee man pleads guilty in Rhode Island arson scheme – KAIT Jonesboro, AR

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – A Tennessee man has pleaded guilty to his role in the burning of an occupied Rhode Island apartment building in what prosecutors called an arson-for-profit.

    Add your comment.


  7.    Official: Relatives believe family was in mansion for fire – WTOP

    ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Before a massive blaze tore through a fanciful re-creation of a castle near Maryland's capital city, the riverfront mansion boasted turrets, a sprawling lawn and forested land that offered beauty and privacy.

    The scene Tuesday was more reminiscent of a colonial ruin: a stark brick wall standing alone with windows missing, the ground rutted by emergency vehicles. A mountain of debris and tens of thousands of gallons of water filled the basement.

    Crews in bright orange suits swarmed the scene where six members of a family were missing, and a huge crane arrived to begin sifting through the wreckage. Search dogs may be brought in to look for bodies and evidence, and fire officials suggested the process of discovering any victims from Monday's blaze could take days, not hours.

    Add your comment.


  8.    QE and central bank solvency | Jérémie Cohen-Setton at Bruegel.org

    Paul De Grauwe and Yuemei Ji write that …. Instead of pooling the interest payments the ECB receives and then distributing them according to the equity shares, one could also use a rule of 'juste retour'. This would mean that the ECB redistributes the exact amounts of interest payments it has received from each member government back to the same government. If this rule is applied, there would be no net interest transfer before or after the default. Complete neutrality is restored and taxpayers are shielded from movements of the value of the bonds on the ECB's balance sheet.

    Paul de Grauwe writes that suppose that for reasons of reputation the member states decide to recapitalize the ECB. Will that not inevitably involve taxpayers in Germany, France, etc? The answer is no. This will just be a bookkeeping operation without involving taxpayers. When national governments decide to recapitalize the ECB to make up for the loss of €1 billion, they transfer bonds to the ECB worth 1 billion, allowing the ECB to increase its equity by €1billion. These transfers occur using the same capital shares. Thus the ECB holds government bonds worth €1 billion. As a result, each government pays interest to the ECB in the same proportion to its capital share. But at the end of the year the ECB transfers these interest revenues back to the same governments using the same capital shares.

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  9.    Europe Needs a Real Industrial Policy | Sparse Thoughts of a Gloomy European Economist

    First, it is hard to see how it will be possible for the newly established fund to raise the announced amount. The expected leverage ratio is very ambitious (some have described the plan as a huge subprime scheme). Second, even assuming that the plan could create a positive dynamics and mobilize private resources to the announced 315 billions, this amounts to just over 2% of GDP for the next three years (approximately 0.7% annually). In comparison, Barack Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 amounted to more than 800 US$ billions. The US mobilized more than twice as much as the Juncker plan, in fresh money, and right at the beginning of the crisis.

    To sum up, the plan and the guidelines are welcome in that they put investment back to the centre of the stage. But, as is the norm with Europe, they are too little, far too little, to put the continent back on track, and to reverse the investment trend of the last three decades.

    That's for sure because the US stimulus was also way, way, way too little by many trillions (say 10, to start).

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  10.    Smart Urbanism and India Development | Sustainable Cities Collective

    We've covered this before, but this article has some additional details.

    With the right priorities and development strategies, India's smart cities initiative has the potential to make cities more sustainable, inclusive, and safe.

    We include this because people may be interested in long-term international investing. India is certainly a place to watch. Some have predicted that it will eventually overtake China.

    Add your comment.


  11.    Japan's Fiscal Situation Is Not As Bad As Many Assume

    The key to understand Japan's fiscal situation is the net debt as opposed to gross debt. First, the Japanese government holds large amount of assets, therefore the net debt relative to GDP ratio goes down to 132 percent as of June 2014.

    Second, the Bank of Japan holds a large amount of Japanese government bonds. "Since the central bank could, in principle, forever hold its current stock of JGBs, the government need not worry about how it is going to repay these bonds," Mr. Weinstein wrote. Then the net debt relative to GDP ratio goes even further down to 80 percent as of June 2014.

    Unemployment is down dramatically, the next tax hike has been pushed back, oil imports are much cheaper, inflation has picked up despite the goofy sales-tax hike that already went through, and then there is the info above, which is completely correct about the bonds.

    We've written many times the same way about the Fed. It doesn't have to unwind its bonds at all, never did. The only people who thought otherwise (the hand wringers) simply didn't know how the system works. Many still don't.

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  12.    Investors keen about global real estate; Tokyo top destination in 2015 – survey | South China Morning Post

    The most popular investment destination is Tokyo, followed by Sydney, and tier-one cities in China such as Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Shanghai. Melbourne is tied with the Chinese cities for the third spot.

    Investors prefer to invest in the office market, while industrial and logistics rank second. Foryt five per cent of investors expect to invest in the Tokyo office market this year.

    Add your comment.


  13.    Housing market heat tipped to cool, NAB survey shows | The Australian

    THE gloss appears to have come off the housing market with a new survey showing expectations for rising house prices over the next one to two years have been pared back as the economic growth wanes and foreign buyers slow their run into the local market.

    The survey also found that foreign buyers are less active in all states except for Victoria, where offshore purchasers make up one in three of all new property sales, according to National Australia Bank residential property index fourth quarter report.

    Add your comment.


  14.    Yen Rises as BOJ Retains Stimulus Plan; Aussie Gains – Bloomberg

    BOJ Decision

    The yen gained against all of its 16 major counterparts after the BOJ's decision disappointed some investors who had expected the central bank to boost its record stimulus plan last expanded on Oct. 31, according to Satoru Igarashi, a senior foreign-exchange strategist at Mizuho Securities Co.

    Japan's central bank today retained its plan to increase the monetary base at an annual pace of 80 trillion yen ($679 billion). The BOJ cut its inflation projection to 1 percent for the fiscal year starting in April, while raising its forecast for gross domestic product to 2.1 percent.

    "The most important element of today's meeting were Board members' updated forecasts for inflation and GDP growth," Marcel Thieliant, an economist in Singapore at Capital Economics, wrote in a note to clients. "If anything, these projections were more optimistic than we had expected."

    They are so timid! What they really ought to do is go back to the system they had before the neoliberals misguided them. That would just be for starters though.

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  15.    Neighbors' complaints to 311 over Airbnb are on the rise | New York Post

    Complaints about short-term apartment-rental services such as Airbnb soared in the past year — but there were only 12 inspectors to act on them, a city official said Tuesday.

    "For a hardworking New Yorker that pays their rent, no one should have to live in a building or next to someone whose apartment is being used as an illegal hotel."

    He does have a point.

    Add your comment.


  16.    When zero is not enough – YouTube

    Denmark's central bank is defending the krone's peg against the euro. Ferdinando Giugliano, economics editor, explains to FT Alphville's Izabella Kaminska how with eurozone quantitative easing around the corner we are entering a phase of competitive easing.

    Add your comment.


  17.    Martin Wolf on China's premier Li Keqiang – YouTube

    Premier Li Keqiang told the World Economic Forum in Davos that China's economy would find strength from its entrepreneurial labour market. Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator, reviews his speech.

    Add your comment.


  18.    Daryl Carter – Trends in Workforce Housing – YouTube

    Good business sense:

    Daryl Carter, Founder & CEO of Avanath Capital Management and 2015 NMHC Chairman, gives MHN the lowdown on what's going on in the workforce housing space. There is extreme demand for affordable housing for the middle class and limited supply in the pipeline.

    Add your comment.


  19.    Energy Investments for Disaster Resilience – YouTube

    We include this because we think landlords and managers should be aware of what may positively impact disaster resilience concerning electrical and other energy types.

    Add your comment.


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