News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 11, 2016

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) France to Install Miles of Solar Roadways | The Weather Channel

2) Rooftop Solar Providers Face a Cloudier Future – The New York Times

3) Does Your Real Estate Investment LLC Give You Bullet Proof Asset Protection?

4) Houston's housing market rises | HousingWire

5) How Low Can Interest Rates Go? Try Negative 4.5% – MoneyBeat – WSJ

6) Bernie Sanders's Tax Plan Would Test an Economic Hypothesis – The New York Times

7) What Slowdown? Chinese Consumer Confidence Still Strong – Real Time Economics – WSJ

8) Negative Interest Rates – Bloomberg QuickTake

9) Bradley A. Hansen's Blog: More Silliness from the History of Capitalism Folk

10) 'The Future Of Work In The Transatlantic Alliance' by Steven Hill

11) Rescuing a SIFI, Halting a Panic: the Barings Crisis of 1890 | Bank Underground

12) The Cap-and-Trade Sulfur Dioxide Allowances Market Experiment

13) Last Chance for Justice

14) How the Myth of Self-Interest Caused the Economic Collapse – Evonomics

15) US economic system unfair, say most Americans | Pew Research Center

16) America's emptiest and fullest cities

17) The Best Ideas to Fight Pollution May Be Too Risky – Bloomberg Business

18) Lakeside Fire suspends service because of insurance lapse – Northwest – The Daily Astorian

19) Veolia in talks to install New Orleans flood prevention system | Reuters

20) Gloomy tide taints emerging markets | FT Markets – YouTube

21) Divergence Denied | Authers' Note – YouTube

  1.    France to Install Miles of Solar Roadways | The Weather Channel

    Hopefully nifty keen:

    To generate clean energy, France will soon be covering parts of its historic cobblestone roads with solar panels.

    The French government is planning to install 620 miles of energy-generating pavement, which has the capacity to provide for up to 8 percent of the country's population, reports Co.Exist. Construction is to take place over the next five years, using Wattway panels from construction and transport infrastructure maintenance company Colas.

    Add your comment.


  2.    Rooftop Solar Providers Face a Cloudier Future – The New York Times

    I keep seeing reports about anti-net metering, but none of them report on the money behind this anti-net metering campaign. Cui bono?

    The article mentions Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway. Has he spent money lobbying against net metering?

    We need to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. We aren't going to do it by thwarting non-carbon-energy production. There are other ways to reduce CO2, but we aren't doing enough of those things to make up the difference in the loss to the solar industry by these moves against net metering.

    Add your comment.


  3.    Does Your Real Estate Investment LLC Give You Bullet Proof Asset Protection?

    Some states are more desirable than others for LLC establishment due to tax laws. Its also important to know the scope of personal asset protection by state when it comes to an LLC.

    Florida, for instance, treats single member LLCs differently than those with multiple members. The Florida Supreme Court ruled in the 2010 case of Olmstead v. FTC that creditors can legally seize "corporate stock" of single member LLCs via charging order to satisfy debts (2). The Court ruled that since Shaun Olmstead was the sole member of two Florida LLCs, the FTC could transfer interest in said companies to its name to help satisfy a $10 million judgment. The reasoning was that seizure did not affect other LLC members and is thus a viable remedy. Utah interprets its laws in a similar fashion (3).

    Add your comment.


  4.    Houston's housing market rises | HousingWire

    "The most noticeable impact has been declines in the luxury market, but mid-range housing actually saw a healthy sales volume in January and inventory levels grew. HAR will continue to closely monitor the economic climate."

    We've seen a number of other, more negative, spins on it.

    Add your comment.


  5.    How Low Can Interest Rates Go? Try Negative 4.5% – MoneyBeat – WSJ

    "Our analysis suggests that the nominal bound on the policy rate is probably a lot lower than people have thought," the economists write in a report Tuesday.

    I agree with them on that.

    Add your comment.


  6.    Bernie Sanders's Tax Plan Would Test an Economic Hypothesis – The New York Times

    In addition to the points discussed in the article, it is also not only possible but likely that higher taxes on the superrich and higher social spending by government would benefit society as a whole much more than it would sink anyone's wealth. In fact, the boon could be great enough to actually cause the standard of living of the superrich to rise right along with everyone else's.

    Add your comment.


  7.    What Slowdown? Chinese Consumer Confidence Still Strong – Real Time Economics – WSJ

    "Chinese consumers seem to be holding up despite the volatility we're seeing in markets," says Louise Keely, president of the Demand Institute and the lead author of Nielsen's quarterly global survey on consumer confidence.

    (It might … have something to do with the state's tight management of the media and Internet, a policy that constrains the ability of domestic and foreign journalists to report news about the economy.) [That's what I've said I think it is.]

    Ms. Keely cautions against reading too much into the consumer-confidence data, as consumption isn't the same driver of growth in the Asian behemoth as it is in the U.S.

    Still, she said, "It's interesting that we are seeing consumption still look to be a relative bright spot in China despite everything else."

    The Chinese people could find themselves blindsided. The resulting disruption would be that much more magnified than if they had been allowed to see it coming.

    Add your comment.


  8.    Negative Interest Rates – Bloomberg QuickTake

    … there's … a worry that when banks absorb the cost themselves, it squeezes the profit margin between their lending and deposit rates, and might make them even less willing to lend.

    That's backwards thinking.

    The real risk is making riskier loans to get the higher interest rate they need to charge to make up for the negative rate at the central bank.

    It really means that banks need to partner with their borrowers to insure those borrowers turn a good enough profit to justify the interest charges on the loans.

    Add your comment.


  9.    Bradley A. Hansen's Blog: More Silliness from the History of Capitalism Folk

    I need to get out more often. I didn't know this debate was raging. Is it raging? Well, it is (at least a bit) here:

    I was very optimistic when I first heard about the new history of capitalism. I am the person that it should appeal to. I believe that history should play a larger role in economics and that economists should pay more attention to other disciplines. I did a Masters in Economic History from the LSE before getting a Ph.D. in Economics. While doing those degrees, I took graduate courses in other disciplines: sociology at the LSE and political science at Washington University. Most of my work does not contain fancy math or statistical analysis. If the new historians of capitalism were actually doing what Hyman says they are doing I would still be optimistic, but they are not. They are content to throw out dated critiques of economics, generalization about economist's motives, and made up numbers about what happened in the past. The new historians of capitalism need to do better. Their audience deserves it.

    Actually, I see both sides of this debate quite clearly; but, I don't want to try to get between them, as I know the general sources while they'd possibly, and understandably, expect extreme specificity.

    Let me at least say that I strongly suspect Cowie doesn't have Hansen types in mind and that somethings semantical have been lost in the translation.

    Add your comment.


  10.    'The Future Of Work In The Transatlantic Alliance' by Steven Hill

    Steven Hill:

    America is heading toward a "freelance society."

    … In the vision of the libertarian CEOs of Silicon Valley, they want a "fractured" labor force they can turn off and on like a water spigot.

    Upwork, for example, is a website where 10 million freelancers and contractors scrounge for work. Upwork draws globally, putting U.S. and German workers in direct competition with counterparts in India, Thailand and elsewhere. The result is predictable: cheap, Third World labor undercuts developed-world wages.

    As "independent contractors" these workers also do not receive safety net benefits, and have no guarantees of future employment. They must constantly search for their next gig — the search itself is unpaid — in this "share the crumbs" economy. The "good jobs" of old are an endangered species. Welcome to the Freelance Society.

    … Fortunately there are solutions, but it will take a reimagining of the social contract, and careful regulation of these new ways of doing business.

    Add your comment.


  11.    Rescuing a SIFI, Halting a Panic: the Barings Crisis of 1890 | Bank Underground

    We have all benn here before.

    Eugene White:

    While the Bank of England and the Banque de France responded to panics by lending freely at high rates on good collateral, they also intervened to rescue deeply distressed SIFIs. Central bank cooperation to obtain liquidity and coordination with the Treasury were then critical to ensure that toxic assets were liquidated in an orderly fashion to minimize losses. Combined with penalties levied on the responsible principals, they were strikingly bold and successful rescues. While one may object that recent crises erupted because of system-wide incentives to take risk (Too Big To Fail, deposit insurance and flawed governance), these two episodes should be thought of as identifying appropriate policies to manage individual troubled SIFIs if the system-wide incentives can be brought under control.

    Add your comment.


  12.    The Cap-and-Trade Sulfur Dioxide Allowances Market Experiment

    I've always opposed cap-and-trade for this reason.

    It's been my impression that such schemes are about some entities earning fees off the trades.

    One potential drawback of a cap-and-trade system is that in some areas the level of local pollutants — those which pose the greatest health threat near their place of emission — can be higher than under uniform emission standards.

    Add your comment.


  13.    Last Chance for Justice

    Phil Angelides:

    As the FCIC noted five years ago, this conduct raised "the question of whether the disclosures were materially misleading, in violation of the securities laws."

    Citing this evidence, the Federal Housing Finance Agency and DOJ have obtained more than $36 billion in fines from 18 major financial institutions, including banks like JP Morgan and Bank of America.

    However, stunningly, not one individual has been indicted or charged civilly for the conduct that resulted in these massive fines. If the banks engaged in such egregious misconduct so as to warrant tens of billions of dollars in fines, then certainly bankers were involved. DOJ must now conduct a thorough inquiry up the chain of command at each of the big banks to determine who specifically was responsible for the conduct that DOJ itself has said "sowed the seeds of the financial meltdown."

    The conduct evidenced in the Clayton "trending reports" of January 2006 to June 2007 is still within the 10-year statute of limitations and still subject to prosecution.

    Add your comment.


  14.    How the Myth of Self-Interest Caused the Economic Collapse – Evonomics

    This view on the greater success that comes via cooperation is absolutely correct and something I've been writing about for decades now.

    It's gratifying that it's catching on so well.

    Mark van Vugt and Michael Price:

    … inspired by neoclassical economic theory and persuaded by leading consultancy firms such as McKinsey, Enron organized their famous Talent days where they would recruit the sharpest and most competitive students from prestigious MBA programs without any regard for their cooperative skills and moral standards (this is generally not taught at in MBA programs). No surprise that there was a culture of competition, deception, and greed at Enron, and no surprise the firm went down in a spectacular way. Banks, firms, and even entire nations have gone bankrupt because they perpetuated the myth of self-interest, while denying human social instincts. It is time for a paradigm shift in economics, and business science and policy.

    Add your comment.


  15.    US economic system unfair, say most Americans | Pew Research Center

    It has become one of the recurring questions of the 2016 presidential campaigns in both parties: Is the U.S. economic system fair to most Americans, or is it "rigged" to favor the rich and powerful?

    A substantial majority of Americans — 65% — say the economic system in this country "unfairly favors powerful interests."

    There's hope!

    Add your comment.


  16.    America's emptiest and fullest cities

    1. Flint, Michigan
    Flint's housing market hasn't exactly been robust for decades, but then disaster struck. The water catastrophe in Flint has made housing there virtually without value. People are clearly leaving, and the houses are sitting empty and contaminated.

    Vacancy rate: 7.5 percent

    1. San Jose-Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, California
    Apparently no home in San Jose is unlivable. Tech has taken over the area and beyond, and job growth has made housing possibly the most competitive in the nation. New construction is tough, due to land and zoning limitations. If there is a roof and four walls, it's occupied.

    Vacancy rate: 0.2 percent

    Add your comment.


  17.    The Best Ideas to Fight Pollution May Be Too Risky – Bloomberg Business

    There have been dozens of suggestions, but none to date should be considered a real solution, according to Williamson. These are some of them:

    Add your comment.


  18.    Lakeside Fire suspends service because of insurance lapse – Northwest – The Daily Astorian

    Dotson says the district recently discovered it has not had insurance on its vehicles or boats since Dec. 31, and also didn't have liability or workers' compensation insurance.

    Add your comment.


  19.    Veolia in talks to install New Orleans flood prevention system | Reuters

    In Copenhagen, Veolia has installed an electronic system to make better use of existing canals and infrastructure to reduce flooding in case of heavy rain, which he said has reduced the amount of flooding by 80 percent.

    Add your comment.


  20.    Gloomy tide taints emerging markets | FT Markets – YouTube

    James Kynge, the FT's emerging markets editor, explains why investors are fleeing emerging markets and how this reverberates across the world, with developing countries accounting for more than half of global economic growth.

    Add your comment.


  21.    Divergence Denied | Authers' Note – YouTube

    As world stocks fall into a bear market, John Authers reports on a loss of confidence in central banks, and the surprising fall of the dollar.

    Add your comment.


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