News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Apr. 9, 2015

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) A double dip | Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis

2) Puzzles: The global secular savings stagnation glut | The Economist

3) Monetary-and-Banking-Reform Platform for The United States | PropertyPak

4) La Via Campesina Declaration on Migration and Rural Workers

5) sustainability news: Carbon storage in world's biomass is increasing

6) Natural prairies replaced with corn and soy following biofuel law : TreeHugger

7) To protect bees, Portland bans insecticide | MNN – Mother Nature Network

8) Why Don't You Buy a House Already? Lots of (Good) Reasons | Zillow Blog

9) California drought: agribusiness, fracking untouched by water rationing – The Ecologist

10) Floodplain Managers Group: Oklahoma Bill Threatens Flood Insurance

11) Insured losses from disasters below average in 2014 | Swiss Re – Leading Global Reinsurer

12) IBHS Report Evaluating States Emphasizes Importance of Updated Building Codes

13) CoreLogic Discusses Launch of Risk Analytics for Sewer Backup

14) Fuel Fix – A pipeline developer is suing 103 West Virginia property owners to get access to their lands

15) Communities Fight Gas Industry to Keep Pipelines Off Their Land | Inside Energy

16) Economics and history: Economic history is dead; long live economic history? | The Economist

17) Rental Goldilocks Zone: Where Conditions are 'Just Right' for Renters ‹ Zillow Real Estate Research

18) The Real Thing: An Anti-austerity European Government

19) Number of Americans looking to buy homes hits five-year low

20) The US Oil Story in Seven Charts – Real Time Economics – WSJ

21) Calculated Risk: Phoenix Real Estate in March: Sales Up 17.5%, Inventory DOWN 12% Year-over-year

22) Martin Wolf on China's prospects – YouTube

23) Varoufakis: These are the Three Critical Elements of a Good Deal for Greece – Bloomberg Business

  1.    A double dip | Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis

    We saw record minimum-ice in the Arctic for any month of March since record keeping began and a record high temperature for Antarctica.

    Folks, it's not due to solar forcing (or the Sun). It's due primarily to human carbon-burning and the greenhouse effect impacting the entire planet.

    Stop listening to the oil, coal, and natural-gas industries and their spokespeople, lobbyists, and "think tanks."

    Taken generally, the libertarian capitalists and other conservatives are completely wrong on this issue.

    Add your comment.


  2.    Puzzles: The global secular savings stagnation glut | The Economist

    We were planning to stop chasing the Ben-Bernanke-stimulated debates going on, but Ryan Avent produced the most readable piece we've seen on it yet. Read his article, and then please concentrate on the following we want to address:

    Congress could just hand the money out. There is much to recommend that solution (though not its politics). It has its downsides. Much of the proceeds would go toward consumption, on goods and services produced by companies that are already investing at close to optimal levels. Lots might go toward residential investment. But the spending should also create new labour demand in low-productivity sectors, adding to employment, adding to wage pressure and kicking the economy back into a better equlibrium.

    Still, this is probably not the first best solution. We would not say that savings, in that case, were being mobilised to their most productive uses. Not while so much of the world is so poor.

    There is another option available. The rich world could address the imbalance within its economies while simultaneously addressing the geographic imbalance. It could allow much more immigration. Investing in people in developing countries in [meant is] hard and risky. But if those people wanted to come to America and were allowed to, then lots of things change. Investing in those people would not then require that money be sent abroad, to a different financial system in a different currency overseen by a different government. If the savings are in rich countries and the most productive investments are in poor ones, then the savings can move or the investments can move.

    "…this is probably not the first best solution…." We disagree, as we believe it could be used in every nation by each nation rather than just savings in one nation moving to other nations. We do like his immigration position though. See the next two posts below.

    Add your comment.


  3.    Monetary-and-Banking-Reform Platform for The United States | PropertyPak

    This is what we believe should be the global template.

    Admittedly, those with a vested interest in the current international-banking system won't like it; but that shouldn't stop the people from choosing what is generally best for all the people.

    We actually hold the view that those in the current banking system would be better off too but that they just lack the vision to see it.

    In many of our posts, we've included information concerning monetary and banking reform for the US mixed economy. The following are the planks of the Monetary-and-Banking-Reform Platform for The United States:

    Add your comment.


  4.    La Via Campesina Declaration on Migration and Rural Workers

    As for the immigration aspect of the debate, here's a highly "progressive" declaration concerning which we agree for the most part. Where we mostly disagree is where the declaration doesn't jibe with the Platform in the post immediately above.

    Refugees from true political and economic oppression should be given an immediate break.

    Rewarding those who entered the country illegally and who weren't facing such oppression or worse, might well constitute moral hazard.

    Add your comment.


  5.    sustainability news: Carbon storage in world's biomass is increasing

    When the researchers looked at the years between 2003 and 2012, they saw that the amount of carbon stored above ground in biomass increased by 4 billion tonnes. This indicates that, despite ongoing and severe deforestation in tropical rainforests, other areas have actually managed to "re-green" quite successfully. The researchers indicate one key effort that seems to have had an impact is China's tree planting known as the Three-North Shelter Forest Program. The effort has seen China create a strip of windbreaking trees that are specifically designed to halt the expansion of the Gobi Desert. This ongoing effort is set to be completed by 2050, with estimates suggesting that by that time the corridor of forest will stretch 4,500km. While the project has hit some problems, and has had its share of criticism, it seems that in this regard at least, it may have been helpful. It also makes China the only region that has purposefully contributed to the identified restoration of forests.

    Desertification as always been a keen interest of ours. Reforestation has been a great idea for many decades.

    Add your comment.


  6.    Natural prairies replaced with corn and soy following biofuel law : TreeHugger

    Margaret Badore:

    If the goal of biofuels is to create a greener way to power transportation, converting prairies to do so is counterproductive.

    We've opposed this particular industrial-scale biofuels cycle from the beginning. It was a bad idea and still is. It's a waste of farmland and uses a great deal of fuel to produce it.

    Add your comment.


  7.    To protect bees, Portland bans insecticide | MNN – Mother Nature Network

    The city of Portland, Oregon, has decided that honeybees are important enough to ban the use of any insecticide containing neonicotinoids, effective immediately. The Portland City Commission voted unanimously to halt neonicotinoids use on any city lands, but the ban does not include private property.

    In addition to banning insecticide use on city lands, the ordinance also urges, but does not require, that retailers label products that may contain neonicotinoids.

    So, apartment owners, etc., may still use it; but should they?

    Add your comment.


  8.    Why Don't You Buy a House Already? Lots of (Good) Reasons | Zillow Blog

    Melissa Allison:

    18 percent say they can't afford the taxes, maintenance and other costs associated with homeownership.
    16 percent say they don't qualify for a home loan.
    13 percent say they don't have enough savings for a down payment.
    6 percent say they receive government assistance for their rent.

    Only 14 percent of renters say they won't be in their current location long enough to merit buying a home….

    Add your comment.


  9.    California drought: agribusiness, fracking untouched by water rationing – The Ecologist

    Wow! This is a scathing report concerning California's water crisis. Evan Blake:

    California has responded to the drought by rationing water, with $500 fines for domestic 'water wasters', writes Evan Blake. But agribusiness and water-intensive industries like fracking remain untouched by the restrictions, even though they consume over 90% of the state's water.

    There are immense efficiencies to be gained through the statewide adoption of crop-specific irrigation methods and other efficiency improvements.

    Yet any such rational reorganization is blocked by the interests of the US financial oligarchy, which, controlling the entire political system, will not abide any impingement on its profits.

    It hardly seems fair that the burden isn't shared across the entire spectrum. Yes, business means jobs; and households having pretty, well-watered lawns is less important; but, to apply no restrictions on fracking, for instance, appears to be extremely shortsighted, considering that the carbon pumped out of the ground will be burned and only make the weather crisis around the world worse.

    Add your comment.


  10.    Floodplain Managers Group: Oklahoma Bill Threatens Flood Insurance

    A group responsible for managing Oklahoma's floodplains says bills moving through the Legislature that prohibit cities from regulating oil and natural gas drilling operations could prevent the state from participating in the National Flood Insurance Program.

    Add your comment.


  11.    Insured losses from disasters below average in 2014 | Swiss Re – Leading Global Reinsurer

    …a series of severe thunderstorms triggered sizable losses in both the US and Europe last year. In May, a spate of severe storms with hail in the US resulted in the largest insured loss event of the year, with insurance claims of USD 2.9 billion.

    Harsh winters in the US and in Japan were another major cause of insurance claims in 2014. The US experienced multiple storms with heavy snow and long stretches of freezing temperatures. Insured losses from all winter storms in the US were USD 2.4 billion, more than double the average of the previous 10 years. The largest loss event was a storm in January that impacted 17 states, with snow falling as far south as Florida, leading to overall insured losses of USD 1.7 billion.

    … In August last year, the South Napa earthquake caused structural and inventory damage totaling USD 0.7 billion, particularly in the numerous barrel storage facilities of the local wine industry. However, the insured loss was just USD 0.16 billion. "In spite of high exposure to seismic risk, insurance take-up in San Francisco County and California state generally is still very low, even for commercial properties. That's why insured losses, in certain areas, can be surprisingly low when disaster events happen," says Lucia Bevere, co-author of the study.

    Add your comment.


  12.    IBHS Report Evaluating States Emphasizes Importance of Updated Building Codes

    …a number of states took no action to improve their code systems, and a few have weaker systems in place now than in 2012.

    … "When buildings are stronger and more resilient, property damage is greatly reduced, home and business owners are able to recover faster…."

    Add your comment.


  13.    CoreLogic Discusses Launch of Risk Analytics for Sewer Backup

    …risk potential based on factors that include watershed hydrology, rainfall intensity and frequency, soil hydro properties, tree coverage, land depression, and aging sewer infrastructure, combined sewer areas, land slope, elevation variances between properties and potential flood sources, and sewer system patterns.

    Add your comment.


  14.    Fuel Fix – A pipeline developer is suing 103 West Virginia property owners to get access to their lands

    Do you want a natural-gas pipeline running through your property?

    Can government force you to accept one? See also the next link below.

    More than 100 property owners in West Virginia are being sued by the developer of a proposed natural gas pipeline.

    Add your comment.


  15.    Communities Fight Gas Industry to Keep Pipelines Off Their Land | Inside Energy

    Local governments all over the country are trying to stop the surge in oil and gas development by embracing a novel legal tactic — community-based rights ordinances. It's a strategy that carries risks.

    Add your comment.


  16.    Economics and history: Economic history is dead; long live economic history? | The Economist

    …a better understanding of economic history would have helped to avoid the worst of the recent crisis.

    … On the one side, those opposing quantitative easing have emphasised the negative role of inflation in history, for instance, emphasising the risk hyperinflation has posed to democracy and the benefit stable prices had in Germany after the second world war. Advocates of expansionary monetary and fiscal policies, on the other hand, point to the Great Depression by arguing that deflation, mass unemployment and low demand posed a far greater risk to democracy than inflation in the 1930s. In short, almost more than ever before, economic debates between policy makers have historical undertones.

    … One lesson that can be drawn from the modern Great Recession, Mr Daunton argues, is that the international institutions created in the 1940s have prevented the return of beggar-thy-neighbour policies and a collapse of the world economy akin to that seen in the 1930s.

    As we've said before, we think economic history is critical. You cannot be an economist without it. We don't care which academic or professional tries to say otherwise.

    Add your comment.


  17.    Rental Goldilocks Zone: Where Conditions are 'Just Right' for Renters ‹ Zillow Real Estate Research

    Las Vegas, Phoenix and Jacksonville are among the largest metros featuring strong job growth, relatively affordable rent and at least moderate rental vacancy rates.

    Add your comment.


  18.    The Real Thing: An Anti-austerity European Government

    James K. Galbraith:

    …the new government confronts an elaborate, well-laid political and economic trap. It's more than a trap actually. It's more like a minefield or an obstacle course that is entirely of human construction. It's purely artificial.

    The trap is comprised of deadlines, deadlines for reviews, deadlines for payment schedules and cash flow hurdles, that were put in place before the 25 January election, in some cases with a view towards the likely timing of that event. It is comprised also of caps on liquidity assistance to the banking system, on issuance of T-bills by the government and the ability to discount T-bills at the European Central Bank — which came into play after the election.

    …as was the case before the 20 February agreement, the pragmatic intervention of someone, for whom I don't ordinarily offer a great deal of effusive praise, namely the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, has to be acknowledged. It's a pragmatic step which may amount to a turning of the corner and an easing of the pressures that have been extremely problematic in recent days from the European Central Bank.

    And in the case of Yanis Varoufakis, the attackers have essentially the same problem. Real life affords no plausible foothold, or is it perhaps a handhold? or is it perhaps a finger hold? And, so, the whole thing had to rest on an alleged fleeting gesture in a long ago quasi-academic lecture. The phrase for this is: scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    Add your comment.


  19.    Number of Americans looking to buy homes hits five-year low

    Add your comment.


  20.    The U.S. Oil Story in Seven Charts – Real Time Economics – WSJ

    The oil price crash has been rippling through the global economy since last summer. Now it's hitting more corners of the U.S. economy.

    Add your comment.


  21.    Calculated Risk: Phoenix Real Estate in March: Sales Up 17.5%, Inventory DOWN 12% Year-over-year

    Bill McBride:

    For the fourth consecutive month, inventory was down year-over-year in Phoenix. This is a significant change from last year.

    This is a key distressed market to follow since Phoenix saw a large bubble / bust followed by strong investor buying. These key markets hopefully show us changes in trends for sales and inventory.

    Add your comment.


  22.    Martin Wolf on China's prospects – YouTube

    Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator, talks to the FT's Michael Skapinker about China's economic slowdown and whether there is still reason to be optimistic about its prospects.

    This is largely as we see it too, though we're more pessimistic about China.

    Add your comment.


  23.    Varoufakis: These are the Three Critical Elements of a Good Deal for Greece – Bloomberg Business

    Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis:

    "…we are prepared to make all sorts of compromises, we are not prepared to be compromised."

    That seems to be a very reasonable position.

    Add your comment.


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