News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Jan. 20, 2016

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) China 2015 property investment slows to 7-year low, sales improve | Reuters

2) Mining downturn unseats speculators in Pilbara's real estate market

3) Construction Wave to Flood Market With Apartments | Realtor Magazine

4) The next financial crash is coming. Which way will the world turn? | The Guardian

5) Martin Luther King Jr. Asked This Economist a Profound Question – Evonomics

6) What Landlords & Tenants Can Do to Minimize Property Crime

7) Bank of Canada Lawsuit | Watershed Sentinel – Environmental News

8) Anti-austerity movement: Barcelona mayor joins Varoufakis in global initiative against EU austerity | In English | EL PAÍS

9) World faces wave of epic debt defaults, fears central bank veteran – Telegraph

10) mainly macro: The political right's dangerous support for economic quackery

11) Weakened at Bernie's – The New York Times

12) Strong China property data masks big problem: unsold homes | Reuters

13) Tour of Detroit Housing: The Good, the Bad and the Hopeful | Zillow Porchlight

14) Hundreds of Oklahomans Turn Out for Earthquake Hearing

15) Our movement to democratise Europe & developments in Latin America and China — Interview with Brazil's GLOBO TV | Yanis Varoufakis

16) Top 10 States Where Home Affordability is a Problem – theMReportcom

17) Here are the Biggest Issues Credit Unions are Dealing With – theMReportcom

18) We Can't Blame a Few Rich People for Global Poverty – The New York Times

19) Davos 2016 — the rise of AI | FT Business – YouTube

20) Changing trends in the European market? | Capital Watch

21) Rams heat up Inglewood's real estate market – LA Times

22) Falling oil means rising foreclosures in these states – Jan. 14, 2016

23) Deadly floods create new urgency for insurance reform | TheHill

24) Basic income for all could lift millions out of poverty — and change how we think about inequality

25) Subdued Growth, Diminished Prospects, Action Needed | iMFdirect – The IMF Blog

26) Five Cutting-Edge Building Materials to Watch in 2016 | Architect Magazine

27) Serial Financial Crises r* and the Savings Glut | PIMCO

28) Tennessee City Seeking Solutions to Flash Flooding Problem

29) The impact of consumer financial regulation: evidence from the CARD Act | Microeconomic Insights

30) More plastic than fish in the sea by 2050, says Ellen MacArthur | Business | The Guardian

31) 2015 was hottest year on Earth by a wide margin: NOAA, NASA | KXANcom

32) Study: Airbnb landlords rent out properties full time – San Jose Mercury News

  1.    China 2015 property investment slows to 7-year low, sales improve | Reuters

    "The balance between demand and supply in the cities we're in has improved a lot… so we don't need to push for destocking in these cities," said an official of state-backed China Resources Land which has 74 percent of its projects in major cities.

    "But we're not talking about the third-tier cities here. We are offering promotions in the smaller cities to push sales," the official said.

    Add your comment.


  2.    Mining downturn unseats speculators in Pilbara's real estate market

    Domain chief economist Dr Andrew Wilson said the end of the mining boom has driven prices down right across the state, including Perth, but the north-west is at the very "epicentre" of the market shakeout.

    … a "casino market" where speculators could make a profit depending on when they got out. However these latest figures show the music has well and truly stopped and some speculators have no chair left to sit on.

    Add your comment.


  3.    Construction Wave to Flood Market With Apartments | Realtor Magazine

    Over the next three years, developers are expected to construct nearly 1 million apartments nationwide, hoping to snag wider profits from soaring rents, which have been on the rise for the last six years. The construction goal is more than the nearly 900,000 apartments built over the previous three years, according to real estate research firm Axiometrics Inc.

    Add your comment.


  4.    The next financial crash is coming. Which way will the world turn? | The Guardian

    Damian McBride:

    … for the second time in a decade — the economy crashes because of loose lending, bad investment and laissez-faire government, the capitalist model that survived the 2008 crash unscathed would finally be ripe for upheaval. In that case, I believed, Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and other leftist candidates around the world might get the mainstream hearing they are currently denied.

    Now I'm not so sure.

    When I look at the US voices who have shouted longest, loudest and most persuasively about the current economic bubble — from young market analysts such as Jesse Colombo to old hands such as David Stockman, as well as politicians such as Ron Paul and Donald Trump who have jumped on their bandwagon — they could not be further from the left.

    In their minds, what we are seeing now is not a further repudiation of the capitalist economic model, but proof of what happens when market forces are not allowed to operate freely, and where governments and central banks see it as their role to prop up markets and keep the bubbles growing. In other words, if we'd stuck to libertarian, free-market, sink-or-swim economic fundamentals, with a dash of isolationism thrown in, none of this would be happening.

    Of course that's what they say. However, the Great Recession was caused by deregulation. Secondly, we haven't fully recovered for the simple reason that the deficit hawks caused too little stimulus in the form of government spending while the private sector deleveraged (on-going but too slowly due to the Fed paying interest on excess reserves to protect the bankers, for whom they work).

    None of this would be happening had we not deregulated in an insane frenzy but had better regulated, which we must still do.

    The laissez-faire crowd is anti-democratic, plain and simple. In their world, those with the most money have the most votes. In their world, inequality is at its maximum, which actually leaves most of them out in the cold too.

    Add your comment.


  5.    Martin Luther King Jr. Asked This Economist a Profound Question – Evonomics

    Francois Badenhorst:

    … To assign the broad range of human experience to merely two simplistic and opposing evolutionary substrates is not enough. And what's more, it's simply wrong.

    Bowles's work has also touched on another interesting point. "Pure altruism — meaning helping others at a cost to myself irrespective of my opinion about your type — is rather rare. Much more powerful is what Bowles terms "conditional altruism". "If I see you acting generously towards a third party and I know you are OK as a type, then I'll treat you as being a part of my ethical world and I'll help you."

    Add your comment.


  6.    What Landlords & Tenants Can Do to Minimize Property Crime

    Kevin Perk has provided a good start for you to consider when beefing up property security.

    What other things might one consider?

    How about deadbolts? It's one of the first things often listed on anti-crime checklists. A trick I learned many decades ago is to install double-cylinder deadbolts. That means that it takes a key to lock and unlock the deadbolt from the inside. It's especially helpful for doors with glass that can be broken so the criminal can't simply reach a knob to unlock the deadbolt from the inside. Be careful though, as a locked exit door during a fire where the key is not handy could cost a life or lives.

    Another thing might be solid-core exterior doors without any glass/windows in them.

    Motion-sensing exterior lighting is excellent too. Be sure to put the lights up high enough so crooks can't just unscrew the bulbs.

    Try to avoid pet doors, as small criminals will use them or get children to go through them and then open the door from the inside.

    Motion-sensing lighting inside is good too and typically will surprise the crook.

    Other structures (sheds, detached garages, etc.) should also be protected.

    Lock your gates too.

    What things would you add to the list?

    Add your comment.


  7.    Bank of Canada Lawsuit | Watershed Sentinel – Environmental News

    According to The Tyee (April 17, 2015), in 1974 the BIS's new Basel Committee — supposedly in order to establish global financial "stability" — encouraged governments "to borrow from private lenders and end the practice of borrowing interest-free from their own central banks. The rationale was thin from the start. Central bank borrowing was and is no more inflationary than borrowing through the private banks. The only difference was that private banks were given the legal right to fleece Canadians."

    The whole world has been fleeced this way.

    Why? So mega-bondholders can earn passive income off the backs of those who have to really work for a living. Meanwhile, much of the superrich (the plutocrats) and their libertarian minions and dupes call the working class too lazy. Too lazy to what? Too lazy to fleece others? Generally, they're just more honest and ethical rather than lazy.

    Add your comment.


  8.    Anti-austerity movement: Barcelona mayor joins Varoufakis in global initiative against EU austerity | In English | EL PAÍS

    They call it Plan B against austerity and for a democratic Europe, and describe it as "a call to build a European convergence space against austerity and for the construction of a real democracy."

    … breaking the EU's austerity regime and radically democratizing European institutions, putting them at the service of citizens."

    Add your comment.


  9.    World faces wave of epic debt defaults, fears central bank veteran – Telegraph

    Ambrose Evans-Pritchard covering William White, the Swiss-based chairman of the OECD's review committee and former chief economist of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS):

    There is no easy way out of this tangle. But Mr White said it would be a good start for governments to stop depending on central banks to do their dirty work. They should return to fiscal primacy – call it Keynesian, if you wish – and launch an investment blitz on infrastructure that pays for itself through higher growth.

    "It was always dangerous to rely on central banks to sort out a solvency problem when all they can do is tackle liquidity problems. It is a recipe for disorder, and now we are hitting the limit," he said.

    The article is overstated, but the quoted portion is exactly right save for two things: "There is no easy way out" (there is) and "we are hitting the limit."

    We have not reached the limit of extend-and-pretend, though there is no point whatsoever in testing the real limit. It is exactly correct that fiscal policy is the one and only solution. Monetarism has always been goofy, to say the least.

    As for Keynes, he was headed in the right direction relative to how things were in his day. His general direction is still correct relative to the libertarian path. But Keynes had his goofy and arbitrary limits too. He was not for the common people's remedy (the only remedy), full, real democratization of the entire economy.

    No, governments do not have to borrow, regardless of whether the interest rates are low right now. Governments simply need to issue debt-free currency in the proper amount targeted at the proper projects. It has always been so, and everything else has been, remains, and will always remain, just lies, obfuscation, ignorance, and noise pollution.

    Is that too strident? Well, if so, what's it going to take for the truth to out, to become common knowledge?

    Add your comment.


  10.    mainly macro: The political right's dangerous support for economic quackery

    Simon Wren-Lewis:

    Policy makers on the right might tell you that of course they are not influenced by this group, but instead consult serious economic analysis that you can find in mainstream universities. But how can we tell if they are telling the truth. When campaigning senior politicians on the right seem quite happy to talk about the government maxing out its credit card, the classic first year undergraduate 'schoolboy' error of treating the government like a household. In the UK, while the fiscal strategy of the Labour government was written up in Treasury documents that referenced the academic literature, there is nothing equivalent from the current government. Even the most technical of Osborne's speeches just seemed horribly out of date in terms of its macroeconomics.

    "… classic first year undergraduate 'schoolboy' error of treating the government like a household." A household that cannot create currency, that is.

    It should always be qualified because the state is a household, just a big one that can issue its own currency. In fact, the root of "economics" means running a house.

    Add your comment.


  11.    Weakened at Bernie's – The New York Times

    Okay, I can't let this one by Paul Krugman just slip by.

    First of all Bernie Sanders has plenty more policy ideas besides the details he released.

    On Glass-Steagall, there is no way he would stop there, not even close. Of course he would move to rein in shadow banking. But leaving Dodd-Frank and simply tweaking it says nothing about completely reining in shadow banking either.

    Let me also take this opportunity to repeat something that Bernie fails to say. Commercial banks that got into trouble in the lead-up to the Great Recession did invest in shadow banks and shadow banking. Glass-Steagall prevented that.

    Let's not forget FDIC here, Paul. Shadow banks' deposits are not supposed to be FDIC insured. Commercial banking deposits are.

    What are we supposed to do, not go down Bernie's path even though it would further underpin FDIC?

    As for "politically unrealistic," Bernie's is a movement upon which many, many young people are literally banking as young people have never done before, not even in the lead-up to the New Deal!

    This is the Internet Age, Paul. Young people are getting ideas at the speed of light well beyond the filtered messages that you grew up on. The youth know how to access "alternative" news and economics and they're doing it en masse.

    I don't know where you were before Barack Obama was elected, but Single-Payer was actually the majority choice. The one and only thing that blocked it was President Obama's failure to put it, and keep it, front and center. It's the main criticism the left has had of him: that he caved in and didn't fight, etc., which is true. He didn't fail because he was a realist. He simply didn't go for the win.

    As for financing Single-Payer, well, the whole tax thing is obfuscation. Why Bernie won't stand up for the debt-free currency route is something he needs to be asked. I suspect he doesn't understand that the groundswell is about to bypass him, making him appear reactionary by comparison.

    Add your comment.


  12.    Strong China property data masks big problem: unsold homes | Reuters

    Wang Jianlin, China's richest man and chairman of property and entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, said on Monday that it could take four to five years for the market to digest the inventory in tier three and four cities.

    That's being very optimistic.

    Add your comment.


  13.    Tour of Detroit Housing: The Good, the Bad and the Hopeful | Zillow Porchlight

    … once the toast of U.S. industrialism.

    I remember when it was the most industrialized city in the world. That's when I lived there.

    It's nice to see if revitalizing.

    Add your comment.


  14.    Hundreds of Oklahomans Turn Out for Earthquake Hearing

    The issue:

    Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, said he's not optimistic lawmakers will take steps to address the quakes because they're afraid of harming an industry that is a key economic driver in the state.

    Add your comment.


  15.    Our movement to democratise Europe & developments in Latin America and China — Interview with Brazil's GLOBO TV | Yanis Varoufakis

    Yanis Varoufakis is honing his message. It's consistent with his earlier position but more detailed, more fleshed out, easier to follow/understand.

    He's about the business of saving Europe.

    He knows why France and Germany are acting as they are. He's also rightly afraid of fascistic nationalism taking more and more power in Europe.

    You use to say that the Eurozone is something like the last verses of the song Hotel California: you can check out whenever you want, but you can never leave. But this is true not just to Greece, it is true for everyone.

    Everyone. Except for Germany.

    Germany can leave. If you are in surplus, if you have a trade surplus, and an external surplus with the rest, you can leave… You may not want to leave. (Because if Germany leaves, the new Deutsch mark will go up and German exports will be more expensive. So there would be a cost involved in that.) But you can leave without suffering a catastrophic capital exodus.

    But it could be possible.

    Oh yes, if anything, there would be a flood of money coming into Germany. So, if you are in a surplus situation you can leave the monetary union. I've been saying that, if there is to going to be a break up of the Eurozone, it is better if Germany leaves. But ideally we should fix the Eurozone.

    I don't think Marine Le Pen is as bad as Yanis thinks, but there are truly ugly fascists waiting for the opportunity to release their worst inner-Nazi with impunity.

    What I believe Yanis must do is sell the Germans on his views. It certainly wouldn't hurt were he to enlighten the Russians while he's at it.

    He also needs to take a page from the sovereign-money play book so he can pay for everything without any inflationary pain and in the full democracy he wants.

    Add your comment.


  16.    Top 10 States Where Home Affordability is a Problem – theMReport.com

    Unaffordable housing markets across the U.S. may pose a challenge for investors searching for properties.

    Add your comment.


  17.    Here are the Biggest Issues Credit Unions are Dealing With – theMReport.com

    Truth be told, we're actually able to apply a little bit more common sense with our portfolio lending and actually do a better job than some of these larger lenders.

    Which type of portfolio lending does he mean there?

    Add your comment.


  18.    We Can't Blame a Few Rich People for Global Poverty – The New York Times

    The political appeal of focusing public anger on the very richest handful of people is obvious. And it would be great if solving global poverty were simply a question of persuading that small handful to share. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in.

    Just to be absolutely clear, the issue isn't simply sharing the existing wealth. It's not simply a matter of fair taxation and redistribution of wealth. The issue is that there is so much inequality and concentration of wealth when we could create all the money needed to rev up and control the entire global economy such that poverty everywhere would be completely eliminated without any excessive price inflation at all.

    Add your comment.


  19.    Davos 2016 — the rise of AI | FT Business – YouTube

    Tax code and distributing the wealth: Yep!

    The FT's Murad Ahmed speaks to Erik Brynjolfsson, the director of MIT's Initiative on the Digital Economy, about the rise of artificial intelligence, how it will transform industries around the world, and what the second wave of robotics entails.

    Barring a huge cataclysm, I believe technological advancement will only accelerate. As for the question of machines being better, machines will remain a tool forever: augmentation.

    Add your comment.


  20.    Changing trends in the European market? | Capital Watch

    The current cycle has already been a long one and as development has been very slow to get started most major cities are being faced with the combination of low vacancy in core areas and no new development in progress. In contrast vacancy in second tier cities and secondary locations in first tier cities is generally still quite high. Consequently the strongest rental growth prospects in Europe are in the CBD's of its main cities. The impact of monetary policy on (bond-like) prime property should not be overlooked either. The combination of low interest rates and QE in the euro area through to at least 2017 meaning that the interest rate effect on prime is bigger than the GDP growth effect on secondary.

    Add your comment.


  21.    Rams heat up Inglewood's real estate market – LA Times

    Victor Matheson, an economist at the College of the Holy Cross, said that property values tend to increase directly near a stadium — but beyond a half mile there's usually no discernible effect.

    Still, the structure and size of the Inglewood project gives the city a better shot at benefiting than other municipalities, according to Matheson and other economists.

    In addition to the stadium, the mixed-use project is adding 2,500 residential units, 890,000 square feet of retail, 780,000 square feet of offices, a hotel, casino and a 6,000 seat entertainment venue. One league owner has called the overall package an "NFL Disney World."

    Add your comment.


  22.    Falling oil means rising foreclosures in these states – Jan. 14, 2016

    Lower oil prices have led to massive layoffs across the country, which can strain local economies with close ties to the energy sector.

    Add your comment.


  23.    Deadly floods create new urgency for insurance reform | TheHill

    Critics say the NFIP relies on outdated flood maps and creates huge financial risk for the federal government by helping people live in areas where flooding is likely.

    Supporters of the legislation argue the private sector will be able [to] provide flood insurance to more people at a lower cost, allowing the NFIP to downsize to an insurer of last resort.

    The maps are updated way too slowly, especially when one considers the rapid onset of AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming), which the article didn't mention.

    The only way insurance could be lower via private insurance is via not covering areas that are covered and so much so (rolling back covered areas) that the private insurers' profits would be relatively assured.

    What needs to be done is to 1) stop AGW 2) relocate people from likely flood zones 3) vastly improve infrastructure to mitigate and prevent flooding and 4) improve housing and other construction to handle flooding, which has been successfully done in parts of Europe.

    Add your comment.


  24.    Basic income for all could lift millions out of poverty — and change how we think about inequality

    Some libertarians like basic income because it promises a leaner state without a large bureaucracy checking people's eligibility and policing their behavior. Others see it as enabling entrepreneurialism — the poor helping themselves.

    On the left, many see basic income as an opportunity to plug numerous holes in the social safety net or even to free people from "wage slavery." For feminists, basic income is a successor to the old demand for wages for housework.

    Pilot projects suggest that simply giving money to the poor could successfully tackle poverty. In Namibia, poverty, crime and unemployment went down, as school attendance went up. In India, basic income recipients were more likely to start small businesses.

    Don't forget that the money could come directly from the Treasury creating it without the government borrowing a dime.

    More money in circulation would increase demand, which would increase supply. The government would need to plan to meet the demand by funding production. These are data, computer, and math problems, not a money-availability problem.

    Add your comment.


  25.    Subdued Growth, Diminished Prospects, Action Needed | iMFdirect – The IMF Blog

    At the start of 2016, turbulence in financial markets has returned amid renewed concern about risks to global economic growth. The fundamental forces that underlay our October World Economic Outlook projections have not dissipated, and in some respects have intensified, leading us to trim our expectations for future medium-term growth of the world economy.

    Fundamental to the current global conjuncture are the same three forces we highlighted in October: China's slower growth and rising financial-market risks amid a process of macroeconomic rebalancing away from the traditional industrial and construction sectors; the fall in commodity prices, notably the price of oil; and asynchronous trends in monetary policies, especially between the United States and most other advanced economies. …

    … China's economy could encounter rough patches where growth slows more than expected, directly affecting trade partners while disturbing foreign exchange and other financial markets worldwide. …

    … political and geopolitical risks have intensified, not receded, in recent months.

    Add your comment.


  26.    Five Cutting-Edge Building Materials to Watch in 2016 | Architect Magazine | Technology, Building Technology, Alternative Materials, Green Materials, Building Materials, Salvaged Materials, Renewable Materials, Sustainable Materials, Research

    All of the materials mention are interesting, to say the least.

    … undergoing testing is a collection of self-healing concrete technologies. Through a project called Materials for Life (M4L), researchers from the School of Engineering at the University of Cardiff, in Wales, are conducting the first major trial of these materials in the U.K. The team, which also includes scientists from the University of Bath and the University of Cambridge, both in England, will evaluate the viability of three types of self-healing concrete: one with shape-memory polymers activated by electrical current, one with healing agents made from organic and inorganic compounds, and one with capsules containing bacteria and healing agents. M4L's goal is autonomous infrastructure—roads, tunnels, bridges, and buildings—that can repair themselves without human intervention. The team's goal is to "create sustainable and resilient systems that continually monitor, regulate, adapt, and repair themselves without the need for human intervention," said Cardiff professor and M4L principal investigator Bob Lark in a press release.

    Add your comment.


  27.    Serial Financial Crises r* and the Savings Glut | PIMCO

    Joachim Fels:

    Despite attempts to make the financial system safer and more crisis-proof, avoiding bubbles and crises will be very difficult as long as desired saving significantly exceeds desired investment. And overcoming the savings glut in the foreseeable future will be very difficult, too. This is because the main factors fueling desired saving, such as demographics, inequality, demand in emerging markets for perceived safe assets, cannot be influenced easily. It's likely the only viable way out would be a joint effort by the major countries to raise public spending on infrastructure, education, and more in order to absorb excess savings and raise r*.

    Who needs r* if we can do better without it? We can. It's called democracy.

    Add your comment.


  28.    Tennessee City Seeking Solutions to Flash Flooding Problem

    South Pittsburg, Tenn., officials are hoping to find a way to end flash flooding in the town after a Christmas morning storm damaged property and killed one resident.

    Add your comment.


  29.    The impact of consumer financial regulation: evidence from the CARD Act | Microeconomic Insights

    We find, first, that consumer fees declined after the regulation. But we find no evidence of an offsetting increase in interest rates or the reduced access to credit that critics had warned of (American Bankers Association, 2013).

    Add your comment.


  30.    More plastic than fish in the sea by 2050, says Ellen MacArthur | Business | The Guardian

    "You are what you eat."

    Want some seafood with your plastic?

    Despite the growing demand, just 5% of plastics are recycled effectively, while 40% end up in landfill and a third in fragile ecosystems such as the world's oceans.

    Add your comment.


  31.    2015 was hottest year on Earth by a wide margin: NOAA, NASA | KXAN.com

    Yesterday and the day before, I saw reports that 2016 was the 2nd hottest. I didn't post those because I knew they were wrong.

    Kiss the libertarians' "pause" since 1998 completely goodbye. Anyway, it never existed in the first place.

    Although 2015 is now the hottest on record, it was the fourth time in 11 years that Earth broke annual marks for high temperature.

    There are ups and downs, and El Nino won't last forever; but, the long-run trend will still be up due to AGW tipping the balance to the heating-up side.

    It would take a huge global dimming (such as a massive earthquake spewing) to offset the rise in CO2 from human carbon-fuel burning.

    Add your comment.


  32.    Study: Airbnb landlords rent out properties full time – San Jose Mercury News

    "We've lost somewhere on the order of 10 or 12,000 or maybe more units that have become tourist accommodations," he said, "at a time when San Francisco is suffering through its worst housing crisis since 1906."

    Does Airbnb help or hurt you as a long-term-lease residential landlord or manager?

    I assume Airbnb drives up rent rates, just as the article suggests; but, is that a good path to profits for the rental industry, or does it cause more harm economically than good?

    Add your comment.


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