News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Jan. 24, 2016

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) Hillary's Record on Regulating Wall Street Amounts to a Non-Confidence Vote – YouTube

2) Quantic – Time Is The Enemy – YouTube

3) A death knell for credit bureaus? – AltFi News

4) Madison Realty Capital Slammed With $150M Lawsuit for 'Fraud' | Commercial Observer

5) Cornell University Residence Will Be Energy-Efficient High-Rise – The Atlantic

6) Zillow: Rents to Slow Their Climb in 2016 | Zillow Porchlight

7) Hunger in the US affects highest number of people since the 1970s | Americas | News | The Independent

8) How Do the Economic Elites Get the Idea That They 'Deserve' More? Lessons from Game Theory – Evonomics

9) It's Time to Make a Hard U-Turn

10) Flooded cities | VOX, CEPR's Policy Portal

11) Macro and Other Market Musings: Has Macroeconomic Policy Been Overly Tight?

12) A quick look at recent wage growth | Jared Bernstein | On the Economy

13) Celebrity chefs feed Cleveland real estate

14) Davos leaders fear 'Brexit' may be deathknell for EU – Telegraph

15) Rise in US jobless claims spurs labor market worries | Reuters

16) Top of the Phoenix Lists: Commercial Real Estate Appraisers – Phoenix Business Journal

17) Portland Real Estate Company Opens Homeless Shelter . News | OPB

18) Amid complaints of 'constant harassment,' New Jersey town moves to ban real estate solicitors | HousingWire

19) Study: Deep Ocean Waters Trapping Vast Store of Heat | Climate Central

20) Unequal cities are also more expensive for the poor – The Washington Post

21) Feds to California farmers: Water reserves low despite recent rains | The Sacramento Bee

22) Chinese stock market woes impacting Bay Area real estate market | abc7newscom

23) Lessons Ignored From the 1930s – YouTube

24) China's capital flight | FT Markets – YouTube

25) Middling, at Best: The Slow Recovery of Residential Construction Jobs – Zillow Research

26) Foreigners Set to Buy Record Commercial Real Estate in Canada – Bloomberg Business

27) Sanders Makes a Rare Pitch: More Taxes for More Government – The New York Times

28) Circuit-Breaking Net Metering Policy for Rooftop Solar Will Leave Everyone in the Dark | Pierre Bull's Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC

29) How Change Happens – The New York Times

30) Why the December rebound in home sales?

31) China's banking stress looms like Banquo's Ghost in Davos – Telegraph

32) A Scared World Is Taking Its Money and Running Back Home—and to the US – Bloomberg Business

33) China Is Moving Mountains For The New Silk Road – Literally – Forbes

34) Glory days of Chinese steel leave behind abandoned mills and broken lives | World news | The Guardian

35) Survey: 3 in 10 Greeks cannot afford heating or hot water

36) Survey of Economists Shows Climate Change Impact Sooner, More Severe

37) New Year's Eve Dubai Tower Blaze Reveals Risks in Cladding

38) Felix Zulauf: -From Buy the Dips to Sell the Rally- | International Selection | Finanz und Wirtschaft

39) Levels, Rates, and Sweden – The New York Times

40) Another Slow Year for the Global Economy by Ashoka Mody – Project Syndicate

41) The optimism error

42) Charted: China's rapidly shrinking working-age population – Quartz

43) How to Make Sense of Plummeting Global Markets – The New York Times

44) Fears of recession in industrial sector grow as pessimism deepens – MarketWatch

45) Hillary's big healthcare con: The cynical myth she keeps repeating about Bernie Sanders and single-payer – Saloncom

46) Is a Single-Payer Health Insurance Program Feasible? – The New York Times

47) 10 Reasons To Overbuild Your Rooftop Solar | CleanTechnica

48) Nevadans must rise up against PUC's decision on rooftop solar | Las Vegas Review-Journal

49) Foreigners snap up Miami real estate | TribLIVE

50) A Greek conspiracy: How the ECB crushed Varoufakis' plans | Real-World Economics Review Blog

51) On Podemos, Greece and DiEM — Interview in El Mundo | Yanis Varoufakis

52) Davos and Its Threat to Democracy | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

53) Sober Look: Currency Realignment and Export Growth

54) City Demands Walmart Raise Minimum Wage To $15… Here's Their Devastating Response

55) Seattle "View from Above" Drone Series

56) Bolivia's Second Largest Lake Dries Up Because Of Global Warming : SCIENCE : Tech Times

57) Video: Animation: 100 years of global warming in less than a minute – Telegraph

58) Seattle neighborhoods hire private security amid 'blatant lawlessness' | The Seattle Times

59) Delinquent taxes put properties at risk – Press-Republican: Local News

60) Blight Authority of Memphis Convenes to Tackle Problem Properties – Memphis Daily News

  1.    Hillary's Record on Regulating Wall Street Amounts to a Non-Confidence Vote – YouTube

    This is about risk management and pure economics.

    These two people are very important voices not typically heard in corporate, mainstream media in the US.

    The Real News Network is considered part of the alternative media.

    Former regulator Bill Black and Public Banking Institute founder Ellen Brown say Hillary's track record gives no indication that she will fulfill any promise in her 2016 campaign to implement regulations on Wall Street.

    Add your comment.


  2.    Quantic – Time Is The Enemy – YouTube

    The video portion of this audio/video is amazing. You may like the music too.

    I'm including it because one just doesn't typically see a view of a major city from that era this way.

    'Time Is The Enemy' by Quantic.
    From the 2001 album The 5th Exotic on the Tru Thoughts label.

    Add your comment.


  3.    A death knell for credit bureaus? – AltFi News

    In the US, the FICO machine crunches through a heap of credit data before spitting out an end report and score. But crucially that score contains no information whatsoever about a borrower's age, salary, occupation, title, address, employer, date employed or employment history.

    Clearly that manner of marker is of little use to a company like SoFi, which specifically targets Millennials. The platform recently hit the $6 billion mark in cumulative lending, a total comprised of a mixture of student debt, first mortgages and consumer loans. A recent survey — commissioned by Bankrate and compiled by Princeton Survey Research Associates International — revealed that 63% of Millennials (18-29 year olds) do not own a credit card. What, then, can FICO tell SoFi about the majority of its prospective borrowers? Not much. Hence the divorce. The platform will henceforth focus on three core borrower criteria: employment history, track record of meeting financial obligations, and monthly cash flow minus expenses.

    Add your comment.


  4.    Madison Realty Capital Slammed With $150M Lawsuit for 'Fraud' | Commercial Observer

    It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

    Imagine a lender provides a mortgage to pay off financing from that same institution. Now imagine finding that out shortly before closing the new loan.

    That's exactly the stunt that father and son Jozef and Sylvester Smolarczyk are alleging Joshua Zegen's Madison Realty Capital pulled on them.

    Add your comment.


  5.    Cornell University Residence Will Be Energy-Efficient High-Rise – The Atlantic

    Smart move:

    In the shadow of the Queensboro Bridge, on New York City's Roosevelt Island, three buildings now under construction will together form the core of a new technology campus for Cornell University. The tallest of them, a student and faculty residence, will look much like any number of apartment towers going up around the city. In fact, it was designed to be one of the most energy-efficient high-rises on the planet.

    The 26-story building is the work of Handel Architects, a New York—based firm that in 2011 partnered with developers and engineers to compete to design a residence on the new campus. Together they put forward an ambitious proposal: a building that would meet the most rigorous energy-efficiency standard in the world, called "passive house." Not only that, it would be both the tallest and the largest passive-house building in North America, if not the world.

    Add your comment.


  6.    Zillow: Rents to Slow Their Climb in 2016 | Zillow Porchlight

    Here's some good news for renters: the Zillow Rent Forecast for December projects a big slowdown in rents over the next 12 months. Nationally, Zillow expects rents to flatten, rising just 1.1 percent in 2016.

    Lots of landlords hate hearing that, but they need to understand that the economy as a whole is being severely hampered by the lack of housing affordability. That means that growth potential is lower than it would be otherwise.

    You may squeeze a little more juice from the turnip, but you'll have fewer turnips overall and a lousier place in which societally to live.

    So think twice about rubbing your hands together over charging ever-higher rent on people who can ill afford it. Think about the big picture and the longer-term health of the economy. You'll be glad you did.

    Add your comment.


  7.    Hunger in the US affects highest number of people since the 1970s | Americas | News | The Independent

    Nobody wants a guilt trip. I'm only following up with this so you'll be able to speak on the issue (if you weren't already aware of the stats).

    "Malnutrition and hunger cause a cascade of terrible, life-long consequences for kids."

    Most of the people on SNAP (formerly called "food stamps") are the ones who are squeezed the most by higher rent rates. So, if you rake it in, in the form of higher rents, you'll pay through taxes to feed your poorer tenants.

    Is it all their fault? Poverty can be an extremely sticky situation, meaning that it can be very hard to get out of for a whole host of reasons that often only pure luck helps with. Not everyone gets such a break.

    Add your comment.


  8.    How Do the Economic Elites Get the Idea That They 'Deserve' More? Lessons from Game Theory – Evonomics

    Yanis Varoufakis:

    The 'haves' of the world are always convinced that they deserve their wealth. That their gargantuan income reflects their ingenuity, 'human capital', the risks they (or their parents) took, their work ethic, their acumen, their application, their good luck even. The economists (especially members of the so-called Chicago School. e.g. Gary Becker) aid and abet the self-serving beliefs of the powerful by arguing that arbitrary discrimination in the distribution of wealth and social roles cannot survive for long the pressures of competition (i.e. that, sooner or later, people will be rewarded in proportion to their contribution to society). Most of the rest of us suspect that this is plainly false. That the distribution of power and wealth can be, and usually is, highly arbitrary and independent of 'marginal productivity', 'risk taking' or, indeed, any personal characteristic of those who rise to the top. In this post I present a body of experimental work that argues the latter point: Arbitrary distributions of roles and wealth are not only sustainable in competitive environments but, indeed, they are unavoidable until and unless there are political interventions to keep them in check.

    Add your comment.


  9.    It's Time to Make a Hard U-Turn

    Narayana Kocherlakota:

    All central bankers agree that, without anchored inflation expectations, a central bank cannot be effective at achieving its price and employment objectives. That's why the main mission of a central bank is to keep inflation expectations well-anchored. The evidence continues to mount that the FOMC is failing at this task. The Committee needs to confront this significant credibility threat by reversing its tightening cycle quickly and decisively.

    I, of course, agree.

    Add your comment.


  10.    Flooded cities | VOX, CEPR's Policy Portal

    The thinking in this article is the same I used when I mentioned (in our last edition) relocating people from flood zones.

    Our findings suggest that in some circumstances, part of the aid and reconstruction efforts should be targeted at moving economic activity away from the most flood-prone areas, in order to mitigate the risk of recurrent humanitarian disasters.

    Add your comment.


  11.    Macro and Other Market Musings: Has Macroeconomic Policy Been Overly Tight?

    David Beckworth:

    … macroeconomic policy has not been very supportive of a robust recovery over the past few years. So I agree with Narayana Kocherlakota on this point. Where people can reasonably disagree, I think, is whether this was the Fed's fault. Stephen Williamson, for example, sees little that the Fed could have done. For him, it was fiscal policy that was deficient.

    It was definitely fiscal policy that was deficient. However, the Fed could have tied strings to the excess reserves it gave to all the banks. It could have forced those banks to use the funds to lend against by making the banks educate and assist the borrowers (businesses of all sizes). That would have meant removing the large banks' focus on speculation and securitization and the like, which would have been a good thing and still needs to be done.

    Add your comment.


  12.    A quick look at recent wage growth | Jared Bernstein | On the Economy

    … it's not so much faster hourly wage growth nor a lot more weekly hours driving the increases. It's lower inflation. In response to the tightening job market, hourly wage growth picked up a bit last year, growing 2.4% in 2015 as opposed to the ~2% of the prior two years. But the big difference was the sharp decline in the CPI. Had prices risen at, say, 2%—a more normal pace—real weekly earnings would have been flat.

    You can view that as a transfer of riches from Middle Eastern oil sheikhs to guys and gals on the production line, providing health care, teaching kids, and so on, which is fine by me. Or you can recognize that nominal wage growth is only now starting (maybe) to pick up its pace a bit, suggesting that (maybe) workers are gaining a little bargaining power as employers compete. And you can hope the Fed sees no reason to stop it.

    It's deflation.

    Add your comment.


  13.    Celebrity chefs feed Cleveland real estate

    Interesting:

    You can't buy a great cheeseburger on the Internet, and that is the simple fact behind the new driver of downtown real estate development. Restaurants are the new retail, and celebrity chefs today are fast becoming just as powerful as names like Macy's and Neiman Marcus were a half century ago.

    Add your comment.


  14.    Davos leaders fear 'Brexit' may be deathknell for EU – Telegraph

    … Mr Schauble gave a strong hint that there can be no bail-out funding for Greece unless the International Monetary Fund agrees to take part. The IMF has refused to do so until there is debt relief on a sufficient scale to clear the way for recovery.

    That's Christine Lagarde standing up and rightly so. She appears to have learned a great deal in office, which is always a good sign. She has also announced she wants to serve another term ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35379 856 ), also a good thing right now, as she's taken the IMF down a new and brighter path.

    If Europe breaks up, Schauble will be the most responsible for it and the Germans will rue the day for having been so utterly myopic.

    Add your comment.


  15.    Rise in U.S. jobless claims spurs labor market worries | Reuters

    "Our first threshold of concern on payrolls would be a four-week average above 325,000, which would signal to us a significant pickup in layoff activity," said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics in New York. "At this point, therefore, the rise in claims is not a concern to us, but we will be watching these data closely over the next few weeks."

    Add your comment.


  16.    Top of the Phoenix Lists: Commercial Real Estate Appraisers – Phoenix Business Journal

    CBRE has been No. 1 on the Phoenix Business Journal's Commercial Real Estate Appraisers list since 2011, and the multifaceted commercial real estate firm again was well ahead of the competition when the list was published ….

    Add your comment.


  17.    Portland Real Estate Company Opens Homeless Shelter . News | OPB

    Now this is what I'm talking about.

    Why should a real estate company get involved in housing Portland's homeless?

    "Why shouldn't we?" said Menashe, whose family owns numerous office, retail and industrial properties in the Portland area.

    Menashe recognizes the negative effects of the homeless population around these properties. He has concerns about showing his buildings to potential buyers visiting from other cities.

    "It's not good for those companies that are in San Francisco thinking about moving to Portland" he said.

    Homelessness has also effected the Menashe family on a personal level.

    He has the right idea and heart.

    Add your comment.


  18.    Amid complaints of 'constant harassment,' New Jersey town moves to ban real estate solicitors | HousingWire

    Residents of a neighborhood in Toms River, New Jersey are so tired of being "constantly harassed" by real estate agents who go door-to-door in their neighborhood offering to buy their homes that they are pushing for a ban of real estate solicitation in the town.

    Add your comment.


  19.    Study: Deep Ocean Waters Trapping Vast Store of Heat | Climate Central

    A gigantic risk-management issue facing the entire planet:

    Plunged to ocean depths by winds and currents, … trapped heat has eluded surface temperature measurements, fueling claims of a "hiatus" or "pause" in global warming from 1998 to 2013. …

    … "The heat's going in at the surface, so it's getting down pretty deep," said Glen Gawarkiewicz, a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientist who was not involved with the study. "With 35 percent of the heat uptake going below 700 meters, it really points out the importance of continued deep ocean sampling."

    On top of this data, it's also been shown that there was no pause at the surface either; therefore, things are much worse than those called "deniers" typically deny is happening.

    Add your comment.


  20.    Unequal cities are also more expensive for the poor – The Washington Post

    Affordability is a supply problem. The supply problem is often a land-cost problem even more than materials, construction labor, and permitting hurdles, etc.

    Add your comment.


  21.    Feds to California farmers: Water reserves low despite recent rains | The Sacramento Bee

    So far California's winter precipitation has been somewhat above average, but not extraordinary enough to reverse the impacts of four severely dry years. The statewide snowpack is 113 percent of average for this date. It's 124 percent in the northern Sierra.

    Rainfall in the Sacramento Valley is running at 114 percent of average, and 120 percent in the San Joaquin Valley.

    "With this promising news and El Niño storms beginning to materialize, we are feeling encouraged," said David Murillo, the Bureau of Reclamation's Mid-Pacific regional director. "However, storage in our reservoirs remains low, and we must be prudent as we develop initial operation plans and allocations for CVP water contractors."

    Add your comment.


  22.    Chinese stock market woes impacting Bay Area real estate market | abc7news.com

    As predicted:

    "We have a lot of clients, who are from the tech sector and they had stock options they were about to exercise that were in the money that would allow them to cash in and make a down payment. Now, not so much," explained Holmgren.

    "What we see is quite a decrease in the number of Chinese home seekers looking for homes on Trulia in San Francisco," said McLaughlin.

    Add your comment.


  23.    Lessons Ignored From the 1930s – YouTube

    "Skin in the game" and officer personal-liability are two suggestions:

    Walker Todd is an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute's new Center for Monetary Financial Alternatives, and an Institute grantee. He is also an economic consultant with 20 years' experience at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

    When Walker Todd discusses "insured bank," he's referring to FDIC coverage of the deposit-banking portion of the overall banking.

    You'll notice that the discussion on Glass-Steagall centered around exactly the same issues I raised earlier, including securitizations.

    Add your comment.


  24.    China's capital flight | FT Markets – YouTube

    China's economy is grappling with massive capital outflows as jittery investors pull out of emerging markets. FT emerging markets editors James Kynge and Jonathan Wheatley explain how the country is coping with the exodus of overseas investors.

    I can't see the Chinese leadership allowing this to continue.

    Can they really not do anything about it? We're talking about a totalitarian dictatorship here.

    This video is talking as if it's a free and open society that can't clamp down and clamp down really, really hard.

    As far as the Chinese Communist Party is concerned, either they give in and become a free and open society or what they are facing is an existential threat. I haven't heard them making the right noises yet: for democracy.

    Even if they were to, the proof would be in the pudding, as that leadership tends to be all over the map, changing on a dime here and a dime there as the winds blow this way and that: they don't know what they're doing and can't be trusted to be consistent other than consistently inconsistent.

    Add your comment.


  25.    Middling, at Best: The Slow Recovery of Residential Construction Jobs – Zillow Research

    • The number of Americans working residential construction jobs rose 5.8 percent year-over-year in 2015, more than twice the pace of annual growth in employment overall.
    • But even at that rapid rate, it will likely take the rest of the decade or more for construction employment to return to its pre-crash, 2008 levels.
    • Total employment in residential construction remains more than 20 percent below 2008 levels, while overall employment is 3 percent higher over the same time.

    The industry says it can't find enough qualified applicants and that land costs are too high to justify building for the middle-and-lower-economic classes.

    Therefore, we need public skills-training in residential construction and federal land-grants or subsidies to build affordable housing.

    The developers will build and sell or rent out single- and multi-family housing if they can make a decent profit doing it.

    Add your comment.


  26.    Foreigners Set to Buy Record Commercial Real Estate in Canada – Bloomberg Business

    "Vancouver is right up there with London and Manhattan as the most desirable and safe market in the world."

    Personally, from a purely short-term perspective, I'd be buying elsewhere until Canada reaches its bottom from the oil fallout. I'd steer clear of Australia too until the Chinese commodities-purchasing cycle has played out and we get a better handle on AGW.

    Add your comment.


  27.    Sanders Makes a Rare Pitch: More Taxes for More Government – The New York Times

    This is key to the Sanders argument. His plan isn't just a big new government program paid for by big new taxes. It would replace private spending on health care, which is currently a huge burden on employees and employers. Yes, employees would pay some new taxes, and employers would pay a new payroll tax that would eat into wages, but it wouldn't eat into wages as much as health insurance premiums do now. Employers would have extra cash to hand out raises, more than offsetting the new taxes employees would have to pay.

    Jared Bernstein, an economist at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, argued there were reasons to think a move to single payer would lift economic growth by making the health care sector more efficient, even if it required large tax increases.

    "People have correctly raised the caveat that restructuring the health care industry would be incredibly disruptive and shouldn't be taken lightly, but I don't think anyone who has taken a good look at that industry and compared the numbers to other countries would disagree that we could create a lot of efficiencies," he said.

    America pays much more per capita on healthcare than any other nation and does not have the best healthcare outcomes, not even close. Many other countries where healthcare is provided by the government much more than occurs in the US spend less and, nevertheless, have better outcomes.

    It certainly makes sense to me that America could put together the best global practices to create the best healthcare system in the world while covering all Americans at no out-of-pocket cost to any American.

    It sure would remove a great deal of stress associated with healthcare expenses people face.

    I'd like to see the system concentrate on preventative medicine much, much more. That alone would save tens of billions.

    It would be nice for employers not to have to be involved in healthcare-coverage choices too.

    What's not to like, unless you're raking it in from the current system and would stand to lose some of the gravy train? You'd still benefit from a healthier, happier society.

    Add your comment.


  28.    Circuit-Breaking Net Metering Policy for Rooftop Solar Will Leave Everyone in the Dark | Pierre Bull's Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC

    An informative article:

    Net metering (NEM), which at its core is a simple policy that credits utility customers at the full "retail rate" for the solar power they generate and supply back to their local utility grid, is seeing a wide divergence in how it is being managed across the country these days. But there is little doubt that the policy has led to impressive gains toward growing the rooftop solar market in recent years.

    Add your comment.


  29.    How Change Happens – The New York Times

    Paul Krugman simply does not understand the depths of the radicalization that has occurred and that is continuing. He doesn't understand that President Barack Obama did not take the case to the American people but rather even said that he, Barack Obama, didn't want to look back (at who criminally caused the Great Recession) but simply move on.

    The people who elected him who were young and enthusiastic were greatly letdown and disappointed that he didn't call upon them to force Congress to do the will of the people.

    So, the question isn't whether Bernie Sanders could or couldn't do this, that, or the other. The questions are, if elected, will he stand up and call out those opposed to radical reforms and whether if that opposition refuses, will then-President Sanders take it to the American people to force that opposition to give in.

    Even FDR told the people to make him do it: reforms. What FDR meant was clear. Be loud and strong and insistent and support me (FDR) against the forces who want to ignore you, the people, the voters, the taxpayers and workers, upon whose backs the nation was built.

    Add your comment.


  30.    Why the December rebound in home sales?

    Bottom line, now that the initial TRID bumps are behind us, delays may continue but not so significantly. A bigger problem facing the housing market today is sheer lack of supply of homes for sale. That situation does not appear to be improving, and as we head toward the historically busy spring market, it throws another wrench into an already uneven housing recovery.

    Add your comment.


  31.    China's banking stress looms like Banquo's Ghost in Davos – Telegraph

    Mr Dalio said the historical pattern is that falls of this magnitude are typically followed by 25pc devaluation.

    "It is not always easy for governments to maintain clear control over the currency," he said. A major Chinese devaluation would be a global earthquake, transmitting a wave of deflation through a world economy already uncomfortably close to a deflation-trap.

    The more China burns through reserves to offset capital outflows and hold the line on the yuan, the more it tightens internal monetary policy – a variant of the 'Impossible Trinity'. This worsens the credit crunch and causes yet more bad debts.

    Add your comment.


  32.    A Scared World Is Taking Its Money and Running Back Home—and to the U.S. – Bloomberg Business

    In some respects, emerging markets have become victims of their own success, notes Galy, who explains how we reached this point:

    Growth is easier initially in an emerging economy as each additional unit of capital and labor offers a high return. As the economy grows their returns diminish as the relatively inefficient services sector grows relative to manufacturing. Intervening against currency appreciation accelerates this transition by importing easier Fed[eral Reserve] policy. But with a mispricing of capital, it typically leads to an over usage, inefficiencies and in some cases excessive domestic valuations. As growth slows down structurally, the promises of ever stronger growth fades leaving investors potentially with unsustainable debt levels.

    China, which has seen its marginal return on credit growth continue to shrink, is perhaps the poster child for the sequence Galy describes.

    Add your comment.


  33.    China Is Moving Mountains For The New Silk Road – Literally – Forbes

    I'm nearly speechless. Not one word on the environmental consequences, not to mention the geopolitical difficulties:

    "Four years ago, all mountains," my local driver Li Wang said as we putted slowly forward in his diminutive, beaten and battered old Japanese car through the newly built-up downtown of Lanzhou New Area (LNA). This is a place where hundreds of mountain tops have been removed to make flat land for development — an initiative which surely ranks among the most extreme undertakings in the history of urbanization.

    When I think of the degradation caused by mountaintop removal for coal in West Virginia and elsewhere in the US, China's cavalier attitude just boggles my mind.

    Add your comment.


  34.    Glory days of Chinese steel leave behind abandoned mills and broken lives | World news | The Guardian

    A billboard on the motorway into China's steel capital evokes the golden era of the country's blistering economic rise. "Gathering great wealth!" it boasts. "Business wins the future!"

    But at the Fufeng steel plant on the outskirts of Tangshan, a once booming industrial hub about 200km south-east of Beijing, there is scant sign of those glory days.

    Is the services sector really picking up enough slack in China? The global news sure doesn't sound like it.

    I don't understand why everyone was so rah-rah for the Communist Chinese Party. It flipped into wildly mismanaged capitalism from Maoism (a basket case). Why anyone thought it would turn out well, what with the crushing of the Democracy Movement at Tiananmen Square, just astounds me.

    Honestly, Wild West capitalism wasn't ever going to paper over the complete lack of democracy.

    We opened China ostensibly to see China become democratic. Yet, one hardly ever hears a word about the global leadership calling upon China to democratize and to do it ASAP!

    Add your comment.


  35.    Survey: 3 in 10 Greeks cannot afford heating or hot water

    Residents in several underprivileged suburbs of Athens and Piraeus have seen their economic situation to have dramatically deteriorate and consequently also their living standards. According to a survey conducted by the Greek Ombudsman: one in five residents seeks soup kitchens and social groceries in order to get food. Three in ten have no heating and hot water. One in four living in apartment buildings have not turn on the radiators since 2010.

    That's in Europe in 2016. Why? It's more important that bondholders don't have to cut back on champagne and caviar, as if Europe is unable to create the money needed to lift Greece right up out of poverty without a lick of price inflation.

    Add your comment.


  36.    Survey of Economists Shows Climate Change Impact Sooner, More Severe

    "There seemed to be pretty widespread agreement that aggressive climate policies are economically beneficial for the United States," Sylvan said.

    Add your comment.


  37.    New Year's Eve Dubai Tower Blaze Reveals Risks in Cladding

    While types of cladding can be made with fire-resistant material, experts say those that have caught fire in Dubai and elsewhere weren't designed to meet stricter safety standards and often were put onto buildings without any breaks to slow or halt a possible blaze.

    Add your comment.


  38.    Felix Zulauf: -From Buy the Dips to Sell the Rally- | International Selection | Finanz und Wirtschaft

    I agree with Felix Zulauf's statements at least 90%. Where I mostly disagree concerns gold. Gold is a relative waste of time. It's an antiquated investment. The only value of gold is its practical utility, such as in medicine and products that literally function on, or function better with, gold. As for jewelry, well that's speculative for sure. As a currency, there's nearly zero point in it. Lastly, gold mining is currently an environmental nightmare.

    According to macro strategist Felix Zulauf, founder and president of Zulauf Asset Management and Vicenda Asset Management in Zug, the almost seven-year-old bull market is over. China is to the current cycle what the US housing market was for the Global Financial Crisis in 2008. It will take years to correct the excesses that were built up in China.

    Since one and a half years, China is doing everything wrong. It started with the government trying to prop up the stock market. China wanted to attract money from abroad in order to stem the capital outflows. However, this was contrary to the fundamentals, as company earnings were falling during the entire bull market. That's why it collapsed under its own weight in the end. These interventions have only worsened the whole situation. The loosening of capital controls too happened at the worst possible time. Even though this move was the right thing to do from a longer-term perspective, it simply exacerbated the liquidity drain. And now again: Beijing is trying to tighten liquidity in the yuan offshore market to deter speculator[s] who bet on a weaker currency. So no, China is definitely not under control. I expect the situation the deteriorate to a point where we will witness a banking crisis in Asia that will hit Singapore and Hong Kong particularly hard.

    So the yuan is bound to fall further?
    Yes.

    Add your comment.


  39.    Levels, Rates, and Sweden – The New York Times

    Exactly:

    … do we think the Fed should have been tightening policy in 1934? I mean, the economy was growing at a blistering pace ….

    Add your comment.


  40.    Another Slow Year for the Global Economy by Ashoka Mody – Project Syndicate

    Before the crisis — and especially from 2003 to 2007 — slow productivity growth was being obscured by an illusory sense of prosperity in much of the world. In some countries — notably, the United States, Spain, and Ireland — rising real-estate prices, speculative construction, and financial risk-taking were mutually reinforcing. At the same time, countries were amplifying one another's growth through trade.

    … the factors that dragged down the global economy in 2015 will persist — and in some cases even intensify — in the new year. Emerging economies will remain weak. The eurozone, having enjoyed a temporary reprieve from austerity, will be constrained by listless global trade. Rising interest rates on corporate bonds portend slower growth in the US. China's collapsing asset values could trigger financial turbulence. And policymakers are adrift, with little political leverage to stem these trends.

    Add your comment.


  41.    The optimism error

    Printing money to finance public investment has been suggested by both the Labour leader and the shadow chancellor as a way to get round the borrowing constraint. Its advantage is that it wouldn't directly increase the national debt, because the government would only owe the money to itself. On the other hand, it might destroy confidence in the state's ability to control its spending, and it would jeopardise the independence of the central bank. So, printing money to pay for public spending should only be a remedy of the last resort.

    "… it might destroy confidence in the state's ability to control its spending, and it would jeopardise the independence of the central bank."

    Two things on that:

    First, Robert Skidelsky is a great source on Keynes, but Keynes was not a democrat (small-d). He was an elitist. State spending ought to be entirely a matter for the people to decide via democratic choice and as little "representative democracy" in that as practicable. If the people increase spending in a way that imbalances productivity with demand, they will find out quickly in a democracy and find out the reasons and the solutions too and implement them. That's how the economy can, and should, be handled.

    Second, which follows from the "First," banks and bankers should have zero policy-authority/independence, central or otherwise.

    Add your comment.


  42.    Charted: China's rapidly shrinking working-age population – Quartz

    … the risk to China is that it will end up with an outsized elderly population before it becomes a developed economy.

    Add your comment.


  43.    How to Make Sense of Plummeting Global Markets – The New York Times

    I keep reading over and over and over how mysterious it all is concerning China's economy because the stock market there is only played by some 10% of the Chinese people in China and that most business financing in China doesn't come from stock issuances anyway.

    I've avoided chiming in with my thinking on the subject but will do so now.

    Look, the Chinese people are not nearly as sophisticated in investing as are Americans, yet many Americans would make the same errors.

    Furthermore, not everything written in the West concerning the Chinese economy makes it into the Chinese media followed by the average-Chinese citizen.

    Many people there see the slowdown and are hunkering down, not increasing consumer spending, especially not enough to make up enough of the losses in manufacturing and probably not enough to avoid a hard landing, at least what I define as a hard landing (some merely call it bumpiness).

    So, it's behavioral economics.

    Could the Chinese leadership simply tell the people the right way to think about it all and the people just fall into line? No. The people have lost a great deal of confidence in the leadership and rightly so.

    The challenge for investors is to determine whether the stock market moves of the last few weeks represent the rational kind of fear or the irrational kind of fear, and we probably won't know the answer anytime soon.

    No, it's rational.

    Add your comment.


  44.    Fears of recession in industrial sector grow as pessimism deepens – MarketWatch

    Has the industrial sector already tipped into recession?

    Nearly 70% of investors surveyed for the latest Corbin Perception Industrial Sentiment Survey believe it has, and they are deeply pessimistic about the outlook for the sector.

    The survey polled 39 investors and analysts who manage $2.3 trillion in assets globally for the quarterly review. A full 61% said they are very concerned about oil and energy headwinds, and 55% said China is a top worry. Half of them were worried about other emerging markets. Most are expecting earnings to be below consensus and are bracing for below-consensus guidance for the rest of the year.

    Add your comment.


  45.    Hillary's big healthcare con: The cynical myth she keeps repeating about Bernie Sanders and single-payer – Salon.com

    Why am I including this link?

    I post a great deal of links to Paul Krugman's articles. I agree with Paul the vast majority of the time, which is when (for former political reasons) the context has been limited to Keynesianism as the sole alternative to libertarianism.

    The context is constantly changing though, and socialism is no longer a dirty word, far from it. People's understanding is becoming more and more sophisticated. For that, I'm very glad. I trust the progress will continue.

    Paul Krugman has a huge megaphone via the New York Times. He's been using it lately to pooh-pooh single-payer as politically impossible. I've pointed out exactly what the quote from this linked article repeats.

    Single-payer was definitely doable. It was a decision on President Barack Obama's part to take it off the table not because he couldn't have gotten it through but because he didn't want to.

    Now, Bernie Sanders is not like Barack Obama. I don't know exactly how strong a President Sanders would be, but I do know that he'd take his desires to the American people and ask them to make it clear to the Congress that if the Congress won't comply, the people will change the Congress into one that will.

    Why single-payer? Well, there's no doubt that the ACA was an improvement over the then status quo. Millions who were not covered are now covered. However, millions are still uncovered who would be covered under the Sanders Plan. In fact, all Americans would be covered under the Sanders plan.

    It's a national risk-management issue, and I'm simply putting the welfare of every American above the money to be made in the private health-insurance system. That's all.

    I'm not against private insurance where it fills a gap left by no state system. As I've said before, I'm not against workers in the insurance industry being paid deserved wages for what they bring to society so that risks and losses are spread out so individuals aren't wiped out.
    Anyway, you decide.

    … in national polls both single-payer insurance and the public option consistently garnered majority approval, polling substantially better than the Senate healthcare bill (which dumped the public option for state-managed insurance market exchanges) among both the general public and physicians.

    Add your comment.


  46.    Is a Single-Payer Health Insurance Program Feasible? – The New York Times

    Okay, this may constitute rubbing it in; but honestly, these letter writers seem to be channeling the same spirits of concern and compassion that I am.

    You'll also note that many doctors of medicine favor single-payer even though such doctors make tons of money from their medical practices. So, just because one is in the insurance industry doesn't mean he or she better be against public medicine, right?

    Add your comment.


  47.    10 Reasons To Overbuild Your Rooftop Solar | CleanTechnica

    This is a very good article. It raises excellent points to consider. All of the points also can apply to rentals.

    Add your comment.


  48.    Nevadans must rise up against PUC's decision on rooftop solar | Las Vegas Review-Journal

    As the NDEP considers the best path toward cleaner energy for our state, we could have been an example of how environmental protection and economic security for everyone can go hand-in-hand.

    Instead, Nevada risks demonstrating to the rest of the nation the dangers of giving a corporate entity such as the Public Utilities Commission, too much control of our environmental and economic future. We risk proving what happens when our elected leaders step out of the way and let the utilities regulate themselves.

    Add your comment.


  49.    Foreigners snap up Miami real estate | TribLIVE

    … Miami residents as a whole have scarcely benefited from the glitz. By catering to wealthy foreigners able to jet around the world, the area boasts a showcase of highly visible investments but not the broad income gains that would serve the bulk of its residents.

    Wages have actually dropped for Miami workers in the past year. Area unemployment tops the national average. Miami contains the largest share of renters in the country who devote over 30 percent of their pay to housing — the level the government deems burdensome. Census Bureau data show that high rents burden 66 percent of Miami tenants, compared with 52 percent nationwide.

    Workers have few affordable housing options in neighborhoods sandwiched between luxe coastal development and the marshy Everglades.

    The gross income-divide isn't sustainable. It's based upon unsound economics.

    Add your comment.


  50.    A Greek conspiracy: How the ECB crushed Varoufakis' plans | Real-World Economics Review Blog

    Wow, we'll have to get Yanis Varoufakis' take on this article. It's damning.

    A few days ago, Stournaras himself exposed a conspiracy. He bragged that he had convened former prime ministers and talked to the President of the Republic to raise a wall blocking Varoufakis' emergency plan.

    Yanis Varoufakis' plan was completely legal and completely sensible. In fact, it should have been implemented. Had it been, many Greeks wouldn't still be in utter poverty. To have undercut it was unconscionable in my view. Where's the compassion for one's own people, one's fellow Greeks, many of them innocent children going to bed hungry every night if they even have a bed?

    Add your comment.


  51.    On Podemos, Greece and DiEM — Interview in El Mundo | Yanis Varoufakis

    DiEM (Democracy in Europe Movement) will be very interesting to see unfold.

    From my perspective and right now, one is either for greater power to the major global corporations or for greater democracy. I'm for the latter of the two. Obviously, so is Yanis Varoufakis. I support his efforts.

    That doesn't mean I oppose all things corporations. Many things many corporations do are quite decent. Some corporations are employee-owned. Hence, they are employee-managed. Some corporations employ "democracy in the workplace." The employees have an equal vote in the decisions of the corporation (or other legal form, e.g. a co-op).

    A community (or other governmental entity) may also own the organization, which organization may or may not be for-profit. Utilities are often handled this way.

    I think privatizing everything is a very bad idea. It is the opposite of democratic. It appears designed so the few may simply increase their private incomes and wealth while typically not improving the goods and services supplied but rather bringing about a diminution.

    The main objection to democracy is usually the proposition that it leads to the tyranny of the majority. However, democracy takes practice. The more democratic, the more open. This means that the more the voters will come to know and understand, which will lead to better and better decisions.

    What are your thoughts?

    On the 9th of February you will found in Germany a new pan European movement that will fight for a democratic and transparent UE. Isn't right now the UE democratic and transparent? Could you please give some examples of malfunctioning of the UE you personally experience?

    Are the examples already mentioned not enough? I think they are! Is it not evident to anyone that crushing Greece's democracy to prevent Podemos from doing well in the Spanish elections not a sign that democracy in Europe has died some time ago? Is any Europe an democrat happy with the situation in which all important decisions are taken in complete darkness and secrecy? DiEM (our Democracy in Europe Movement) will offer all European democrats who feel enraged by these practices a platform to organise for the reclamation of European democracy.

    What will your new movement propose to solve those problems?

    The whole point about DiEM, our movement, is to create a powerful force across Europe that makes it possible to imagine the democratisation of the EU. How we will achieve this will be the topic of conversation in Berlin. But for this, you need to wait until the 9th of February and the publication of our Manifesto a few days earlier.

    Add your comment.


  52.    Davos and Its Threat to Democracy | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

    I cover the World Economic Forum (WEF). I post plenty of links coming out from them. Many people involved in the WEF truly do care about the environment and are pulling in the right general direction concerning economics (away from laissez-faire). However, it is wise to consider the strong criticisms of the WEF that are out there. Do those criticisms have any merit? Here's one that I think certainly does.

    … WEF since 2009 has been working on an ambitious project called the Global Redesign Initiative, (GRI), which effectively proposes a transition away from intergovernmental decision-making towards a system of multi-stakeholder governance. In other words, by stealth, they are replacing a recognized model where we vote in governments who then negotiate treaties which are then ratified by our elected representatives with a model where a self-selected group of 'stakeholders'make decisions on our behalf.

    Now, quoting that doesn't mean I'm supporting representative democracy above a more direct democracy. It also doesn't mean that I'm for keeping the various nation-states of the world from federalizing (with strong qualifications or provisos).

    What it does mean is that I oppose a technocracy and more importantly, a global plutocracy masquerading as a corporatocracy (not that a corporatocracy is something good).

    So, what we are seeing today is the unfolding war between the forces of plutocracy (controlling the mega-corporations and often national governments) versus the forces of purer, more direct democracy.

    I'm clearly with the democrats (note the lowercase "d").

    Where do you stand on it and why?

    Add your comment.


  53.    Sober Look: Currency Realignment and Export Growth

    The IMF states "intuitively, as countries are more integrated in global production processes, a currency depreciation only improves competitiveness of a fraction of the value of final good exports" (1) .

    Add your comment.


  54.    City Demands Walmart Raise Minimum Wage To $15… Here's Their Devastating Response

    This article assumes that having a Walmart store in the area is necessarily a positive thing. The absence of a Walmart can often mean more small businesses employing more people at higher wages benefiting the entire community via better tax-revenues and fewer people on welfare and food assistance, etc.

    Add your comment.


  55.    Seattle "View from Above" Drone Series

    Click the link:

    http://viewfromabove.emirates.com/3d/cit y/seattle/detail

    Add your comment.


  56.    Bolivia's Second Largest Lake Dries Up Because Of Global Warming : SCIENCE : Tech Times

    "This is a picture of the future of climate change," says German glaciologist Dirk Hoffman.

    Add your comment.


  57.    Video: Animation: 100 years of global warming in less than a minute – Telegraph

    Nasa has released a powerful animation mapping global warming trends between 1880 and 2015.

    Add your comment.


  58.    Seattle neighborhoods hire private security amid 'blatant lawlessness' | The Seattle Times

    Do you have an apartment complex with more crime problems than your management team can reasonably deal with?

    … a handful of Seattle neighborhoods are taking crime prevention into their own hands by hiring extra security patrols in the form of off-duty police officers or private security personnel.

    Donald Decker, an expert in police and security with Robson Forensic, said it's common nationwide for communities to hire additional security personnel, and they should be properly trained, licensed and adept at dealing with people.

    The most important factor to consider with such personnel is their limited use of force; they have no more rights than a private citizen, he said. …

    "Uniformed presence of security is one of the best crime measures someone could have," Decker said. "There are many reasons why people are hiring, including not enough personnel in the police department to do what the population they are trying to protect wants them to do."

    Add your comment.


  59.    Delinquent taxes put properties at risk – Press-Republican: Local News

    Clinton County officials are hoping the owners of 88 properties that are behind on their taxes will make payments in order to avoid losing their land.

    Add your comment.


  60.    Blight Authority of Memphis Convenes to Tackle Problem Properties – Memphis Daily News

    With funds from the Tennessee Housing and Development Agency, the newly-established nonprofit Blight Authority of Memphis plans to purchase, demolish and clean up blighted properties across the city.

    Add your comment.


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