News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 1, 2016

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) Slaying in 'the Jungle': Deadly shooting at Seattle homeless camp deepens crisis – The Washington Post

2) Study: Seattle ranks No. 1 in affordable, walkable neighborhoods with good schools | KOMO

3) Two weeks in the book; with week 3 drawing to a close soon

4) Jobless rates rise for Seattle, Washington state | The Seattle Times

5) Bedbugs Have Developed Strong Resistance To Insecticides : SCIENCE : Design & Trend

6) Mortality Rates Among Middle-Aged White Americans Are On The Rise And Here's Why : LIFE : Tech Times

7) Properties pile up at St. Louis County tax sales : News

8) Broker's view: Fear factor should be absent when investing in real estate | Miami Herald

9) Moody's warns banks on housing market | Business Spectator

10) Mid-tier Chinese banks piling up trillions of dollars in shadow loans

11) Euro-Area Factories Cut Prices as Deflation Risks Loom Large – Bloomberg Business

12) What Data Can Do to Fight Poverty – The New York Times

13) 3 Bergen Men Charged With Arson In Insurance Fraud Scheme

14) KC Woman Pleads Guilty to $235,000 Arson, Insurance Fraud Conspiracy | USAO-WDMO | Department of Justice

15) Global income inequality tied to worldwide tax havens – Don't Mess With Taxes

16) Out-of-town investors take interest in Butte real estate

17) Undercover in New York

18) Paul Krugman, Bernie Sanders, and the Experts | The Center for Economic and Policy Research

19) Coppola Comment: Japan's negative rates: the China connection

20) Hong Kong January Home Sales Hit 25-Year Low, Centaline Says – Bloomberg Business

21) The Invention of Inequality by Antonio Foglia – Project Syndicate

22) Trimmed Mean PCE Inflation Rate – Dallas Fed

  1.    Slaying in 'the Jungle': Deadly shooting at Seattle homeless camp deepens crisis – The Washington Post

    The decision not to supply affordable housing comes back to haunt society.

    Listen to all the people who have homes complaining about all the symptoms of homelessness in their area.

    The solution is monetary and banking reforms of a highly democratic nature. However, the national leadership avoids discussing that because it would end the special advantages and privileges of the plutocrats currently controlling the economic and financial system through bought-off politicians.

    Add your comment.


  2.    Study: Seattle ranks No. 1 in affordable, walkable neighborhoods with good schools | News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News | KOMO

    Okay, speaking of Seattle's lack of affordable housing, we get this article, which is a nice one in that it promotes walkability coupled with good public schools. However, let's be extremely honest here. Buying and living in The Hamptons would be very affordable for Bill Gates. The house he lives in, in Seattle would fit right in, in terms of size anyway.

    Therefore, when we speak of affordability, let's not speak as if six-figure incomes are average just because we're talking about the upper-middle class. Homelessness and poverty are just too important not to qualify our use of certain terms.

    Look, I love Seattle, but it is typically not "affordable" in the common usage.

    Add your comment.


  3.    Two weeks in the book; with week 3 drawing to a close soon

    Since we're on Seattle and affordability, here's a ditty from the Rental Housing Association.

    This bill from the new County Assessor of King County, John Wilson creates "affordable housing zones" as an option for local governments to provide tax breaks for landlords that keep rents down within those designated zones. I'm not sure we will see both bills get through the session, but it's good to see some discussion about incentives for landlords in helping keep rents as low as possible whild still maintaining financial viability.

    There's nothing wrong with that attitude. Affordability can't survive without financial viability.

    If the people, through their governments, want private-sector landlords to provide affordable housing, then the people must come up with ways for landlords to do it while having enough money to do a good job of it and to give those landlords the wages they deserve for their work.

    Add your comment.


  4.    Jobless rates rise for Seattle, Washington state | The Seattle Times

    Housing isn't affordable when we have this happening.

    The unemployment rate for both Washington state and the Seattle metro area climbed in December.

    72,200 unemployed in Seattle is 72,200 too many. This is why a guaranteed livable income would help. Free college would help too so the youth wouldn't be saddled with student loans.

    I don't know about you; but if I had a guaranteed livable income, I'd still work but only better.

    Add your comment.


  5.    Bedbugs Have Developed Strong Resistance To Insecticides : SCIENCE : Design & Trend

    Researchers studied the effects of neonicotinoids or neonics, a class of neonicotinoids that are generally used in conjunction with pyrethroids [to] treat bedbugs at a commercial level.

    Add your comment.


  6.    Mortality Rates Among Middle-Aged White Americans Are On The Rise And Here's Why : LIFE : Tech Times

    While research into heart and liver disease has virtually stalled over the last couple decades, relative to the speed at which it once moved, there is yet another factor that may explain while middle-aged whites are dying in larger numbers.

    "One hypothesis is that the excess deaths among middle-aged whites reflect erosion in their socioeconomic standing," the report says. "On a range of social and economic indicators, middle-aged whites have been falling behind in the 21st century."

    This isn't to say that the quality of life of middle-aged white Americans has fallen behind that of other groups. This may be due to under-educated workers leaving the mainstream workforce, lower levels of social interaction, the decline of social institutions and "the splintering of society along class, geographic and cultural lines."

    The Great Recession has definitely been causal.

    Add your comment.


  7.    Properties pile up at St. Louis County tax sales : News

    For nearly 300 properties, the back taxes, interest and fees exceed the appraised value. Sometimes, this is because the expense of demolition has been tacked on, creating situations in which the amount the county hopes to recover on a vacant lot might exceed the value of the home next door.

    At many of these homes, the county is also spending resources on property maintenance.

    Cutting grass, trimming trees, and securing abandoned homes costs the county well over $1 million a year, said Nick Gardner, director of the transportation and public works department. There are about 1,600 properties the county monitors, which doesn't include vacant properties in municipalities.

    "We want to stabilize these neighborhoods," he said. But he acknowledged that the liens the county places on properties for maintenance expenses can serve as a disincentive to investors. "Over time, the county has more against the property than the property is worth," he said.

    Cut your losses. Let the properties go to qualified buyers who will make needed repairs or raze and rebuild the housing stock, plus keep their tax payments current.

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  8.    Broker's view: Fear factor should be absent when investing in real estate | Miami Herald

    My husband and I, as a team, have been buying and selling residential and commercial property as brokers and investors for over 37 years in Miami and throughout the state of Florida. We know that fear clouds basic principles of sound real estate investment; when investors realize this, they can avoid making mistakes and losing money when buying and selling properties.

    Add your comment.


  9.    Moody's warns banks on housing market | Business Spectator

    Moody's said the housing slowdown will continue into the coming year, exacerbated by the sluggish economy.

    "Slowing growth in China, Australia's biggest export market, and declining commodity prices, which are — at or near multi-year lows — will also put pressure on the Australian economy and contribute to below-trend growth and a soft labour market in 2016," Ms Chen said.

    Add your comment.


  10.    Mid-tier Chinese banks piling up trillions of dollars in shadow loans

    Mid-tier Chinese banks are increasingly using complex instruments to make new loans and restructure existing loans that are then shown as low-risk investments on their balance sheets, masking the scale and risks of their lending to China's slowing economy.

    So, why should anyone believe the official growth numbers coming out of the Chinese government when so much of the "growth" is via such toxic loans?

    Add your comment.


  11.    Euro-Area Factories Cut Prices as Deflation Risks Loom Large – Bloomberg Business

    Factories in the euro area slashed prices of goods by the most in a year in January, highlighting the deflationary risks that's keeping alarm bells ringing at the European Central Bank.

    Add your comment.


  12.    What Data Can Do to Fight Poverty – The New York Times

    We have found that pairing experts in behavioral science with "on the ground" teams of researchers and field workers has yielded many good ideas about how to address the problems of poverty. Hope and rhetoric are great for motivation, but not for figuring out what to do. There you need data.

    Add your comment.


  13.    3 Bergen Men Charged With Arson In Insurance Fraud Scheme

    Three Bergen County men were charged with arson in an attempt to fraudulently collect insurance money on a home they set on fire, authorities said.

    The three men were charged with arson for hire, aggravated arson, and insurance fraud.

    Add your comment.


  14.    KC Woman Pleads Guilty to $235,000 Arson, Insurance Fraud Conspiracy | USAO-WDMO | Department of Justice

    … Shonk admitted that she led an arson and insurance fraud conspiracy in 2014. Shonk obtained renter's insurance on a house she rented in the 3500 block of Garfield, burned the house with the help of co-conspirators, and then made false claims on the insured property resulting in a total loss to insurance companies of $235,464.

    Add your comment.


  15.    Global income inequality tied to worldwide tax havens – Don't Mess With Taxes

    Kay Bell:

    • In 2015, just 62 individuals had the same wealth as 3.6 billion people, half the people in the world. The wealth figure is down from 388 individuals as recently as 2010.
    • The wealth of those richest 62 people has risen by 44 percent in the five years since 2010. That's an increase of more than half a trillion dollars ($542 billion) to $1.76 trillion.
    • Meanwhile, the wealth of the bottom half fell by just over $1 trillion dollars in the same period, a drop of 41 percent.
    • Since the turn of the century, the poorest half of the world's population has received just 1 percent of the total increase in global wealth, while half of that increase has gone to the top 1 percent.
    • The average annual income of the poorest 10 percent of people in the world has risen by less than $3 each year in almost a quarter of a century.

    … a global network of tax havens makes it easier for the richest individuals to hide $7.6 trillion. All those dollars hidden in offshore accounts total more than the combined gross domestic product of the United Kingdom and Germany.

    As taxes go unpaid due to widespread avoidance, government budgets feel the pinch, which in turn leads to cuts in vital public services. It also means governments increasingly rely on indirect taxation, like VAT, which falls disproportionately on the poorest people.

    And tax avoidance, says the nonprofit, is a problem that is rapidly getting worse.

    Oxfam analyzed 200 companies, including the world's biggest and the World Economic Forum's strategic partners, and found that 9 out of 10 companies have a presence in at least one tax haven.

    In 2014, corporate investment in these tax havens was almost four times bigger than it was in 2001.

    Add yo ur comment.


  16.    Out-of-town investors take interest in Butte real estate

    Considering that the average sales price of a single-family home in Butte is $145,924, people investing in the Mining City are spending a lot less than those buying in Montana's largest cities.

    "They're picking up houses from $20,000 to $70,000," said Kivela as she described Butte's investors.

    Add your comment.


  17.    Undercover in New York

    Global Witness has previously looked at a whole range of crimes, and found they all had one thing in common. They were all carried out by anonymous company owners, who are able to skirt U.S. laws and launder money through our financial system. If these sham companies did not exist, those crimes would be far harder to commit.

    Add your comment.


  18.    Paul Krugman, Bernie Sanders, and the Experts | Beat the Press | Blogs | Publications | The Center for Economic and Policy Research

    After you read the article (by Dean Baker I think), please note that Dean (if it is Dean) uses Paul Krugman's method against Paul. Paul Krugman routinely chides the libertarians for having predicted hyper-inflation (so why believe them now?).

    I have tremendous respect for Paul Krugman. I also consider him a friend. For these reasons I am not eager to pick a fight with him, but there is something about his criticisms of Bernie Sanders that really bothered me.

    In a blog post last week, Krugman told readers:

    "As far as I can tell, every serious progressive policy expert on either health care or financial reform who has weighed in on the primary seems to lean Hillary."

    While I already had some fun with the idea of Krugman revoking the credentials of everyone who works in these areas who does not back Clinton, the appeal to the authority of the "experts" is more than a bit annoying. The reason is that the "experts" do not have a very good track record of late and still have a long way to go to win back the public's trust.

    Paul hasn't backed off at all. In fact, he's only ramped it up. He thinks all of the criticisms against Hillary have been a vast right-wing conspiracy consisting of nothing but hot air. Unfortunately, he's wrong (not that some of the criticisms weren't, or don't remain, rather hypocritical and wrong and not that other criticisms, while not baseless, weren't/aren't exaggerations).

    Anyway, it's not the complaints of the right-wing that matter so much concerning Hillary but the complaints against her coming from progressives (people who make Paul Krugman look downright reactionary by comparison). Paul's made no secret that he's no "socialist." Considering that Bernie Sanders calls himself one, it's not difficult to realize that Paul is decidedly anti-Sanders.

    It's interesting that in all of the articles of Paul's I've read, I don't recall seeing him call Bernie out for not really describing socialism when Bernie defines "democratic socialism." Maybe Paul's done that though; but if so, not much.

    Add your comment.


  19.    Coppola Comment: Japan's negative rates: the China connection

    I'm glad Frances Coppola has supplied the quotes she has, but I fail to see why she's concluded that the object of the negative interest rate isn't to alter bank lending-behavior. She wrote, "… the negative rate is not about bank lending." Hmmm?

    Just because there are immediate impacts on yields that the BoJ sees as beneficial in making Japan somewhat immediately more competitive doesn't mean that the BoJ is not looking deeper into the process where they see additional (greater) stimulation of their economy via more lending.

    Of course, Frances may be right that the BoJ is less farsighted than I've been thinking they've been becoming. I'm certainly open to finding that out if it's true. They haven't been exactly quick on the uptake. One simply needs to recall the retail-sales-tax increase, which hasn't been reversed.

    However, Frances wrote, "The negative rate is not primarily intended to encourage banks to lend." In my view, the qualifier "primarily" there muddles her overall argument. You'll note above that she started out without that qualifier and rather emphatically stated that lending didn't enter into the BoJ's thinking or decision.

    I'd have to hear a direct answer from them before making up my mind on it.

    Anyway, I think they're being way to timid still (see: http://propertypak.com/2016/01/31/news-r eal-estate-risk-economics-jan-31-2016/#0 1311612 ) ; and personally, I never thought that negative interest on excess reserves is solely to promote lending.

    Add your comment.


  20.    Hong Kong January Home Sales Hit 25-Year Low, Centaline Says – Bloomberg Business

    Hong Kong home sales slumped to the lowest in at least a quarter-century last month, Centaline Property Agency Ltd. estimated, adding to evidence that prices have further to fall.

    Centaline estimated January sales of new and secondary homes would reach 3,000 units, the lowest monthly figure since it started tracking data in January 1991. The previous low was 3,786 units in November 2008, according to a Jan. 31 release.

    The whole global unwinding has been happening in a delayed fashion. I wonder when the acceleration will occur (assuming the global leadership doesn't have the light turn on above its collective head).

    Add your comment.


  21.    The Invention of Inequality by Antonio Foglia – Project Syndicate

    I just read that "there are 32,000 homeless children in Washington state." Then I read this (by Antonio Foglia):

    Perhaps a new approach is not necessary at all. After all, globally, standards of living are continuously improving and converging. That is something that everyone, from the emerging populists to the hardened capitalists, should be able to agree on.

    Where's the compassion in that? We don't need to speed up progress but can just wait for neoliberal economics to trickle down (even though that's not how it works)?

    Look, Corbyn is aware of "money finance" as a source for People's QE. If handled correctly, we don't have to wait and we don't have to fight for soaking the rich. We can easily end poverty in less than a generation and without debasing the currency even slightly. All it takes is brains and a heart.

    Add your comment.


  22.    Trimmed Mean PCE Inflation Rate – Dallas Fed

    The Fed isn't seeing inflation yet.

    December 2015

    The Trimmed Mean PCE inflation rate for December was an annualized 0.9 percent. According to the BEA, the overall PCE inflation rate for December was -1.1 percent, annualized, while the inflation rate for PCE excluding food and energy was 0.5 percent.

    Add your comment.


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