News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Apr. 6, 2016

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) SF-Style Rent Control Spreads Across Bay Area – CBS San Francisco

2) Is China Housing Market Booming? – Forbes

3) Medford considers foreclosure action on abandoned properties to fight blight – News – MailTribunecom – Medford, OR

4) How much money can banks create? [Banking 101 Part 4] – Positive Money

5) The Central Bank of Iceland welcomes the monetary reform resolution – Positive Money

6) LA Rent-Control Evictions Have Doubled Since 2013 – Curbed LA

7) Zaha Hadid 's final apartment. Manhattan – NYC – YouTube

8) Economic spring in the US? | FT Markets – YouTube

9) Denying Housing Over Criminal Record May Be Discrimination, Feds Say : The Two-Way : NPR

10) Gary M. Galles: Helping the poor by hurting them

11) mainly macro: Port Talbot and Neoliberalism

12) Rent growth eases: Why it is happening here and not there

13) As China Turns to Consumers, Australia Confronts End of Iron Age – Bloomberg

14) China's zeal for steel casts long shadows at home and abroad | The Guardian

15) Oil boom 'too much of a good thing': Goldman

16) UK Government's housing policy targeting homeless families is 'tantamount to social cleansing' | The Independent

17) California and New York's bold $15 minimum wage proposals are exactly what we need | Economic Policy Institute

18) Home Inspections Can Save You Thousands: Here's How to Get the Most Out of Yours

19) New York Passes Rent Rules to Blunt Gentrification – The New York Times

20) Some Louisiana Residents Dropped Flood Insurance, Now Regret It

21) FEMA Denies Request for Levee Repairs in Grand Isle, Louisiana

22) $2.6M Fine Against Exxon over Arkansas Oil Spill Upheld

23) Tornadoes Leave Damage Behind in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi

24) Nebraska Letter Carrier Awarded $25K after Dog Bite

25) Costly Ice Wall at Fukushima Plant Approved by Japan Regulators

26) Lagarde Sees Political Dangers Galore With Global Economy Tepid – Bloomberg

27) Subprime housing risks raise red flags in China – MarketWatch

28) What Wall Street Cost Stockton – Public Banking Institute

29) What Bernie Sanders Gets Right | The Fiscal Times

30) Seven years after the Great Recession, some Chicago suburbs may never recover – Chicago Tribune

31) The ECB Explains Why Central Banks Can't Go Bankrupt in a Footnote – Bloomberg

32) 'Soft at the Top, Strong in the Middle' for NYC Multifamily | GlobeStcom

33) Tax havens don't need to be reformed. They should be outlawed | The Guardian

34) Mossack Fonseca: The Nazi, CIA And Nevada Connections… And Why It's Now Rothschild's Turn | Zero Hedge

35) 400 reporters kept the Panama Papers secret for a year. Here's how they pulled it off.

36) Strategic QE: Money Creation for Sustainable Investment (Richard Werner) – YouTube

37) All Putin's Men: Secret Records Reveal Money Network Tied to Russian Leader · ICIJ

38) Still Report #759 – Trump – Pay off the Debt in 8 Years! – YouTube

39) Wildfires Flare Again in Oklahoma, Threatens Town – ABC News

40) Dead, ugly malls turned into productive real estate again by Dallas duo | Dallas Morning News

41) How secret offshore money helps fuel Miami's luxury real-estate boom | Miami Herald

  1.    SF-Style Rent Control Spreads Across Bay Area – CBS San Francisco

    If landlords don't get behind the government subsidizing the construction of vastly more housing to make it affordable, this is what may await them.

    … rent control was largely limited to costly cities such as San Francisco or New York where there were too many people and not enough apartments.

    But tenant demand for protections is shifting to the suburbs in the San Francisco Bay Area ….

    Add your comment.


  2.    Is China Housing Market Booming? – Forbes

    I find it fascinating how quickly the perceptions reflected in many media headlines on China's property market can change from 'crashing' yesterday to 'roaring' today. The reality, unsurprisingly, is far more complex.

    Not really. Real estate is in a bubble because the Chinese people have very few options for investing and the Chinese government knows it and uses it.

    Add your comment.


  3.    Medford considers foreclosure action on abandoned properties to fight blight – News – MailTribune.com – Medford, OR

    From the richest subdivisions of east Medford to the poorest neighborhoods west of the railroad tracks, 436 mostly bank-owned houses sit vacant, often attracting vagrants and drug users and creating a nuisance for their neighbors.

    They want to fix up the ones that aren't too far gone so they can provide affordable housing. The others, they want to demolish.

    Add your comment.


  4.    How much money can banks create? [Banking 101 Part 4] – Positive Money

    In the US, the Fed requires 10% reserves.

    … the important thing is that this system of central bank reserve accounts is a closed loop. It's technically impossible for any central bank reserves to leave the loop, because central bank reserves are by definition numbers in accounts at the central bank, and only the Bank of England is able to actually create or destroy central bank reserves.

    That's not how it works in the US.

    "required reserves
    "Funds that a depository institution is required to maintain in the form of vault cash or, if vault cash is insufficient to meet the requirement, in the form of a balance maintained directly with a Reserve Bank or indirectly with a pass-through correspondent bank. The required amount varies according to the required reserve ratios set by the Board and the amount of reservable liabilities held by the institution.

    "required reserve balance
    "That portion of its required reserves that a depository institution must hold in an account at a Federal Reserve Bank. This portion is the difference between the institution's reserve requirement and its vault cash.

    "reserves
    "A depository institution's vault cash (up to the level of its required reserves) plus balances in its reserve account (not including funds applied to its required clearing balance)." https://www.minneapolisfed.org/site-info rmation/glossary

    Many, many people have been mistaken for years about how the US system works because they've been thinking that things work the same way here as they do in Britain.

    For years, I told everyone I ran into who was claiming the US is as the UK that it just isn't so but always to no avail.

    Add your comment.


  5.    The Central Bank of Iceland welcomes the monetary reform resolution – Positive Money

    This is a good development. I sincerely hope Iceland ends up directly issuing debt-free currency rather than going through the banking and bond system in the usual fashion.

    We're now to step 5 into establishing a parliamentary committee on reviewing arrangements of money creation in Iceland (according to the procedure of Iceland's parliament):
    ….
    5. Opinion of the committee: the committee delivers its opinion to Althingi and proposed amendments.

    6. Second reading: the resolution is debated at a second plenary reading

    7. Voting: Minimum of 50% participation is required. Resolution is passed if majority of votes are "Yes".

    Add your comment.


  6.    LA Rent-Control Evictions Have Doubled Since 2013 – Curbed LA

    … 1,137 rent-controlled units were removed from the market in 2015–a number that has nearly tripled since 2013, while the number of evictions from rent-controlled units has doubled. In total, over 20,000 units have left the market since 2001.

    These removals haven't put too much of a dent in the number of rent-controlled apartments still available in the city (around 641,000), but tenant advocates say the removal of even a few affordable units can have a big impact on the rental market.

    Add your comment.


  7.    Zaha Hadid 's final apartment. Manhattan – NYC – YouTube

    The famed architect, Zaha Hadid, has died.

    The new apartment building will be nothing short of impressive, with an intricate metal and glass facade sculpted piece by piece. Inside, the high-rise will boast a parking garage with robot valets and the city's first private 3D IMAX theater.

    Add your comment.


  8.    Economic spring in the US? | FT Markets – YouTube

    I don't know why John concerns any of us with gold. Gold is an indicator of ignorance and nothing more. People who pile into gold are still living in the gold standard, which hasn't been around in a long time, isn't coming back, and shouldn't.

    Add your comment.


  9.    Denying Housing Over Criminal Record May Be Discrimination, Feds Say : The Two-Way : NPR

    This is what's called a gray area. The article doesn't offer definitive rules. You have to use your own judgment a great deal.

    The Department of Housing and Urban Development is making it easier for people with criminal records to find housing.

    In new guidance, released Monday, HUD tells landlords and home sellers that turning down tenants or buyers based on their criminal records may violate the Fair Housing Act.

    "…may violate…" depending …

    Add your comment.


  10.    Gary M. Galles: Helping the poor by hurting them

    Look, these articles are all the same. They all, and I mean all, always ignore that the reason wages are too low, and they are too low, is not because of the minimum wage but because corporation executives, with huge compensation packages tied to stock prices, do not share the corporate profits with the lowest-paid employees. They use part-time workers as much as possible to avoid paying full-time benefits too. They rely on SNAP, not pay checks, to feed their minimum-wage employees.

    Also, these articles never discuss the positives associated with higher minimum wages, and there are such positives.

    What we really need in this country is a guaranteed basic/living wage. We need free college too, and don't tell me we can't afford it. We also need public high-skills training and employment.

    Also see: "California and New York's bold $15 minimum wage proposals are exactly what we need | Economic Policy Institute," linked below.

    Add your comment.


  11.    mainly macro: Port Talbot and Neoliberalism

    I don't know if Simon wrote this to be humorous, but I was laughing out loud reading it, not at Simon (but perhaps with him).

    I am aware that neoliberalism has a blind spot when it comes to what economists would call market imperfections. That seemed to me one difference between neoliberalism and ordoliberalism, with the latter seeing a clear role for the state in restricting monopolies. The way you could characterise this is that neoliberals started Econ 101 but skipped before the lessons on market failure, while ordoliberals held out a little longer to hear about monopoly.

    That, at least, is how I saw it. I had also seen the Institute of Economic Affairs, a London think tank, as being a bastion of neoliberalism. Although often a supporter of Conservative government actions, they were not in favour of caps on immigration or Osborne's hike in minimum wages. I was therefore rather surprised to hear its director saythat the EU government would have been wrong to impose tariffs on Chinese steel. True, the idea that a producer in an oligopolistic market with high entry barriers could use its deep pockets to drive out other producers by temporarily cutting prices, and subsequently use its new monopoly position to raise prices by much more, might have been one of the economic lessons that were skipped. But when one of the most powerful states in the world does it? I would have thought that would have raised alarm bells for any neoliberal.

    Add your comment.


  12.    Rent growth eases: Why it is happening here and not there

    Rent gains had been strongest in some of the largest metropolitan markets, and they are now the first to see the easing. Younger workers, priced out of these markets, have been choosing smaller cities, and now rents in those cities are strengthening.

    Electricity and the poor seek the path of least resistance.

    Add your comment.


  13.    As China Turns to Consumers, Australia Confronts End of Iron Age – Bloomberg

    Just as China's industrialization helped reshape Australia's economy, the Asian giant's pivot toward consumer-led growth is challenging Down Under anew.

    Chinese demand for food and energy will only partly offset slowing growth in iron ore exports that funneled cash throughout Australia for more than a decade, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia. That means the nation must find new growth drivers at a time a housing boom falters and a resurgent currency compound difficulties posed by the slowdown in Australia's biggest trading partner.

    "Australia's resilience in the face of the mining bust does not actually owe much to a surge of new demand from Chinese consumers," he said. "To put it simply, Australia dealt with the end of the Chinese housing boom by unleashing a housing boom of its own." [Andrew Batson, an economist at GaveKal Dragonomics in Hong Kong]

    … what comes next, said Jeremy Lawson, chief economist at Standard Life Investments.

    … "Australia is particularly vulnerable to the next global downturn."

    Add your comment.


  14.    China's zeal for steel casts long shadows at home and abroad | Business | The Guardian

    … before it became clear that 40,000 jobs were at risk in the UK, the Chinese government announced that 500,000 steel workers were to lose their jobs. All this is the result of China's first annual steel industry contraction in a quarter of a century, announced last January.

    Add your comment.


  15.    Oil boom 'too much of a good thing': Goldman

    … energy companies are feeling the pinch of lower crude prices. Last year, ratings agency Standard & Poor's warned that 50 percent of energy company bonds were now considered "distressed" and were at risk of default. In total, S&P estimates that $180 billion worth of debt falls in that category.

    Meanwhile, at least 50 different oil and gas companies have filed for bankruptcy since last year.

    That's what I was trying to warn Stanley Fischer about.

    Add your comment.


  16.    UK Government's housing policy targeting homeless families is 'tantamount to social cleansing' | Home News | News | The Independent

    Awfully bad government:

    Charities and politicians are demanding urgent changes to housing policy across Britain and warning that thousands of homeless children's lives may be at risk because they are disappearing from support services after being rehoused.

    The calls come after an investigation by The Independent uncovered cases of homeless children dying from neglect and abuse after families were moved out of their local authority boundaries. …

    Councils are shunting homeless families out of their local areas on an unprecedented scale to save money on accommodation, as the legacy of the housing crisis and the Government's cuts to welfare are felt, but they are frequently neglecting to share records with each other, meaning thousands of vulnerable women and children are completely off the radar of support services.

    Mr Robb also said: "The modest proposals in the Budget to tackle homelessness are simply inadequate given the scale of this problem, and will not reach the thousands of homeless families hidden away in cramped B&Bs and dingy hostel rooms."

    The Coalition Government cut housing benefit rates by 40 per cent, reducing the amount of housing available to councils and forcing them to look further afield for accommodation for their residents. Councils have responded by moving more and more homeless families out of the area in a desperate search for cheaper rents.

    Sadiq Khan, Labour's candidate for Mayor of London, said he was "shocked at what The Independent has uncovered in this investigation" and that the practice "is tantamount to social cleansing".

    "Either the current Government, with the deep cuts they're imposing on local authorities, don't care or, worse still, are happy to sit by and let it [social cleansing] happen," he said. "What we need is nothing short of a complete ov erhaul of housing policy in London."

    Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader, told The Independent: "We're really starting to see the dangerous impact a Tory-only government is having on our country, and the chances young children have to succeed.

    "The Chancellor is blinkered to the impact his policies are having on families who are struggling to get by.

    "Enough is enough. It is time Cameron and Osborne realised that their dogmatic approach to welfare, housing and our vital public services will have a damaging and long lasting effect on children in Britain. Instead of improving life chances, Osborne is treating the poorest families in Britain as an afterthought."

    Add your comment.


  17.    California and New York's bold $15 minimum wage proposals are exactly what we need | Economic Policy Institute

    This answers "Gary M. Galles: Helping the poor by hurting them," linked above:

    There should be no doubt that low-wage workers and their families as a whole will see their living standards boosted significantly, as total wages earned will substantially improve—even if work hours decline there will be a much larger pool of wages earned by low wage workers. That is why the possibility of any hours shrinkage should not be the sole gauge of whether a minimum wage increase is appropriate or not.

    The recent literature on the minimum wage analyzed more modest increases and finds little, if any, employment loss. [ http://research.upjohn.org/cgi/viewconte nt.cgi?article=1220&context=empl_researc h ] These studies, however, do not provide precise guidance to bolder increases, leaving clear uncertainty about employment outcomes—though it's reasonable to presume there will not be a substantial decline. Our view is that 'employment loss' is an Econ 101 shorthand for potential shrinkage of total work hours and it is misleading if it implies that any hours shrinkage all takes the form of disemployed workers never able to find work again. We do not know how much work hours will shrink—in the event that they do— nor how any possible hours shrinkage will be distributed across workers in a low-wage labor market characterized by high turnover and repeated shifts between work and nonemployment. Such a reduction could manifest as reduced weekly hours, longer spells of unemployment, disemployment, or less multiple job holding. Not all of these outcomes are inherently bad — fewer total annual work hours is advantageous so long as higher hourly pay rates generate greater annual wages, as we expect will happen at higher minimum wages. We do not think the uncertainty around these effects should cloud that raising the minimum wage to $15 in 2023 will significantly boost the overall income going to low-wage workers and their families.

    Add your comment.


  18.    Home Inspections Can Save You Thousands: Here's How to Get the Most Out of Yours

    Great article by Mindy Jensen:

    As a licensed real estate agent, I recommend that all my clients — especially my first timers and my owner-occupants — get a home inspection. If you're new to real estate investing, I recommend you get one, too. You never know what you don't know.

    A home inspection is an inspection of the major systems and physical attributes of a property. Think furnace, AC, plumbing, electrical, roof, basement. The inspector comes into the home and sets up any testing like radon or mold. Then the inspector goes around the house looking at everything.

    Each inspector has their own system and typically works from a checklist. They take a ton of pictures as they go through the house and make notes for their report.

    They look at the age of each mechanical and also test to see if it is in working order. …

    They'll turn the furnace way up to see how easily it turns on. Inspectors check the status of the unit — clean, dusty, not working at all — and include a note about all of this in their report, along with a basic life expectancy.

    Example: Furnace is 9 years old. Average life expectancy for a furnace is 20-25 years. It was in working order when tested. Verify service history with seller.

    If the inspector finds damaged or missing items, they will note those, too. …

    A few years ago, I was looking at a townhouse in an awesome area. Newly rehabbed, I wasn't expecting anything to be wrong with it, but I still wanted a home inspection. As we were outside finishing up, the inspector casually mentioned that the exterior was not stucco, but something called EIFS — Exterior Insulation Finishing System.

    Hmm, what's EIFS? Thankfully Google existed even back then, and a quick search told me I wanted no part of any property covered in EIFS. When installed correctly, it looks like beautiful stucco at a fraction of the price. When installed incorrectly, water gets trapped behind the product and can cause m assive mold damage — to the point that the property becomes uninhabitable.

    I didn't stick around long enough to deal with that. Mold isn't my thing, and the property wasn't enough of a steal for me to figure that out.

    Another thing was that exterior issues in a townhome or condo become the responsibility of the association. And anyone who has ever tried to deal with an association knows what a difficult task that can be. So, I walked. And I was happy to spend that $400 to discover that issue. Maybe "happy" isn't the right word — but certainly not mad about it.

    Not everyone needs a home inspection. If you are an inspector, go ahead and do it yourself. If you've done 500 deals, you might not need one, either. If the property is a 100 percent teardown, you can probably skip it then, too.

    But to forego an inspection simply because it is too expensive is the wrong reason to skip it. And the "wasted" $500, $800, $1,000 can actually save you tens of thousands in unexpected issues.

    Check for permitted rehabs. If the property you are buying is recently rehabbed or has been rehabbed since it was built — think built in the '60s but looks like the '80s — check with the city to make sure all the permits were pulled, inspected and completed. This isn't covered in a property inspection, so you should do it yourself.

    My current home was purchased through foreclosure. It had an original house and a large addition. I've been investing since before dirt was invented, but I didn't think to check on permits. Guess what happened? We applied for a permit to build over the existing large first-level addition and were told that the addition didn't exist. Uh-oh.

    Read the whole thing.

    Add your comment.


  19.    New York Passes Rent Rules to Blunt Gentrification – The New York Times

    The New York City Council passed sweeping changes to the zoning code on Tuesday, compelling private developers to build low-cost rental units and handing Mayor Bill de Blasio a victory on the centerpiece of his efforts to blunt neighborhood gentrification.

    Negotiations with the Council on the major points of the plan, which was made final last week, ensured the inclusion of units affordable to more lower-income residents — including those making 40 percent of the area median income or less — in new developments that benefit from zoning changes, a major concern in poor communities where the mayor's plan is likely to spur development. The deal, which also includes neighborhood-specific changes to the zoning codes and the creation of housing for older adults, assured the plan's passage on Tuesday.

    City officials compared the adopted proposals to those in other cities, noting that New York's plan went further by including mandatory creation of below-market rental units that are permanent and reach residents making well under the area median income of $86,300 for a family of four. The Council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, called it a "landmark plan."

    Under New York's plan, developers benefiting from rezonings for either residential growth or greater height and density are, for the first time, required to include units for those with earnings below the median income. The decision about what level of affordability to apply to a given development — between 40 percent and 80 percent of the median income — is to be determined by the local council member. The plan also provides for the creation of units for those making 115 percent of the median income, provided a portion be for those earning much less. The set-asides range from 20 percent to 30 percent of all of the new units.

    Add your comment.


  20.    Some Louisiana Residents Dropped Flood Insurance, Now Regret It

    Are there suits?

    Some Monroe, La., homeowners dropped flood insurance when they got the choice, and are now regretting it.

    Add your comment.


  21.    FEMA Denies Request for Levee Repairs in Grand Isle, Louisiana

    "Put some more rocks on the outside, do it right so I don't have to knock every six months to repair something," Camardelle said.

    Add your comment.


  22.    $2.6M Fine Against Exxon over Arkansas Oil Spill Upheld

    Tens of thousands of gallons of heavy crude oil spilled into a neighborhood in Mayflower, drainage ditches and a Lake Conway cove when the Pegasus Pipeline cracked.

    Add your comment.


  23.    Tornadoes Leave Damage Behind in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi

    Strong storms plowed through Georgia … spawning at least one … tornado, … setting off tornadoes that swirled through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

    Add your comment.


  24.    Nebraska Letter Carrier Awarded $25K after Dog Bite

    A letter carrier has won $25,000 from the owners of a dog that bit him in Grand Island, Neb.

    Question: If you're a landlord allowing pets, are you too liable? Well, you could certainly be sued, but it's a question as to the outcome. Consult your attorney for legal advice on this.

    Add your comment.


  25.    Costly Ice Wall at Fukushima Plant Approved by Japan Regulators

    I published this as a suggested approach before I had seen anything on it from anyone else. Obviously, it occurred to others independently, as the method had been used before, albeit on a smaller scale. I truly hope they've done a good job setting it up and that it works.

    Add your comment.


  26.    Lagarde Sees Political Dangers Galore With Global Economy Tepid – Bloomberg

    "To some, the answer is to look inward, to somehow unwind these linkages, to close borders and retreat into protectionism," she said, without naming any politicians. "As history has told us — time and again — this would be a tragic course."

    Lagarde reiterated her call for countries to use all three major tools at their disposal to boost growth: structural reforms, fiscal stimulus and monetary policy.

    Some "linkages" ought to be reworked. Greece is in its terrible situation because of the awfully weak design of the EU and euro. Open borders are fine provided evil can be screened out. Protectionism against those who have been asked to be fair but are not is not evil in itself but a reaction to evil. Structural reforms ought to be along egalitarian lines and not neoliberal. Finally, the fiscal and the monetary ought to be merged into one. What does Ms. Lagarde say to all of that?

    Add your comment.


  27.    Subprime housing risks raise red flags in China – MarketWatch

    The central bank and the housing ministry last month started to crack down on loans enticing home-buyers with "zero-down-payment" slogans.

    … easing measures and new incentives fed a property frenzy in China's megacities, with buyers driven by fear of being left behind in a market increasingly out of reach.

    … Depending on the housing market, agents say, these loans can attract annual interest rates of up to 24%.

    … Standard & Poor's, have warned of growing risks from bad loans tied to the housing market.

    "Trying to reduce housing inventory by encouraging individuals to increase borrowing is a dangerous experiment," said Ming Zhang, a senior economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think tank. "Enormous risks are lurking behind the surging property prices in first-tier cities."

    Some economists see parallels between Beijing's mixed messaging on the housing market and its attempts last year to first talk up a stock-market rally and then control the fallout as shares reversed direction. As a way to help support the broader economy, Chinese regulators made it easier for individuals to borrow to buy stocks, and then scrambled to rein in margin financing.

    "Down-payment loans are duping young people," said Jiang Yan, a 32-year-old Shanghai resident, using a term roughly translated as "a greater fool" to describe a spiral of buyers paying irrational prices for assets in the belief they can be sold on for an even crazier price.

    Add your comment.


  28.    What Wall Street Cost Stockton – Public Banking Institute

    … Lehman Brothers, a Wall Street firm, made the city an enticing offer: $152 million in fixed-rate bonds to keep parks, police stations, and garbage collection running. Lehman not only didn't fully explain the risks to city officials; they also charged $6 million in fees for the deal–a deal that ended up giving Stockton nothing in return.

    As a result of Stockton's reliance on Wall Street financing, the city is now mired in poverty, with underfunded social services and public safety. 23% of Stockton residents live below the poverty level, compared to 14.2% in California as a whole. 10.1% of Stockton residents have incomes at only 50% of the poverty level, compared to 6.3% in the state as a whole. 30,000 children there live below the poverty line. Cuts to the city budget have resulted in a public safety nightmare, and violent crime there has soared.

    Add your comment.


  29.    What Bernie Sanders Gets Right | The Fiscal Times

    Mark Thoma:

    "Is Milton Friedman's dictum that firms that maximize shareholder value maximize social value as well still relevant in a post-Citizens United world?"

    What did they mean by "still"? I don't think it was ever relevant. I'm sure it was always wrong. It sounded stupid when I first heard it and haven't changed my mind.

    … inequality is an important factor behind the political capture that allows the rules to be tilted in favor of special interests, and that this has undermined the conditions needed for the marketplace to serve the broader social interest. Breaking up monopolies, adequate regulation of the financial sector, reducing the threat of global warming, enhancing the bargaining power of workers, and so on is more difficult, if not impossible when a small segment of society has undue influence over attempts to legislate change.

    … the idea that it magically produces an outcome that maximizes social welfare, relies upon assumptions that are increasingly distant from how our economic and political systems actually work. I don't know if the forces that have allowed special interests to become so powerful can be overcome, but I am far more optimistic than I was before this year's presidential campaign that change is on its way.

    Amen to that.

    Add your comment.


  30.    Seven years after the Great Recession, some Chicago suburbs may never recover – Chicago Tribune

    The housing crash might seem like old news, but for families left behind by the recovery it remains a defining economic reality, with negative equity preventing moves and limiting choices in life.

    The question for many in these towns is no longer when they will recover, but if they ever will.

    "The housing market is a good reflection of the uneven recovery of the economy, overall," and may help explain why consumer confidence lags so far behind other economic indicators, said Geoff Smith, executive director of the Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University.

    While boom times may have returned to a handful of hip Chicago neighborhoods, and well-to-do suburbs were not so badly affected, "a good half to two-thirds of the housing market is still trying to get back to where it was, and a third is still at pre-2000 prices," Smith said.

    Given how much of most homeowners' wealth is tied up in their homes, that's a serious brake on the Illinois economy. But without some widespread principal reduction program for underwater homeowners of the type being considered in a more limited form by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Smith said, recovery will take "a lot of patience" and "is not necessarily realistic for a lot of neighborhoods."

    Predatory lending practices in predominantly black neighborhoods and towns where residents were sold "exotic and garbage mortgages" that could quickly be packaged up and sold as securities on Wall Street led to a huge number of foreclosures between 2008 and 2011….

    "I'm gonna have to work till I die," he said. "Don't get me wrong, Vietnam taught me that I'm blessed for every moment that I have. But the majority of us who are living paycheck to paycheck are being held hostage by an indifferent political class."

    Add your comment.


  31.    The ECB Explains Why Central Banks Can't Go Bankrupt in a Footnote – Bloomberg

    Savvy?

    While noting that profitability may be useful for a central bank's credibility, the paper makes the critical point that losses made by a central bank do not lead to the bank needing to be recapitalized, or the bank becoming insolvent.

    The ECB makes this point in a footnote on page 10:

    "Central banks are protected from insolvency due to their ability to create money and can therefore operate with negative equity."

    Central banks cannot run out of money because they are the ones that create the money. And you cannot run out of something you can create yourself.

    This is a point that I've made over and over. It's why the US can't go bankrupt and also why we are under no funding constraints whatsoever short of runaway inflation, which can easily be kept in check while we grow the economy exponentially.

    Only one thing is holding us back: private usurers demanding a cut they do not deserve and never have.

    The system is a scam. The people who ask about where the money will come from are simply uneducated about money creation and the banking system.

    Add your comment.


  32.    'Soft at the Top, Strong in the Middle' for NYC Multifamily | GlobeSt.com

    We are not quite building what the market is demanding, and it is driven by land prices. Developers who bought land two years ago have more wiggle room to adjust pricing because the pricing was set two years ago for the product that comes online today. The lower you paid for land, the more you are going to be able to adjust pricing to sell. Also, when developers are adjusting prices there is a rapid uptick in sales activity. That is an important component to frame the story of what is actually happening.

    Add your comment.


  33.    Tax havens don't need to be reformed. They should be outlawed | Richard Brooks | News | The Guardian

    File this linked article under geopolitics and propaganda.

    The video in particular is very immature or assumes we are (which is immature, isn't it?).

    Based upon the information given, there is no logical way of positively concluding that Putin has engaged in hiding money and using it for the benefit of his family.

    I'm not saying he has or hasn't. I'm saying that the video maker and publisher wants us to jump to conclusions based upon "evidence" that need not be taken the way it is being presented as proving.

    This is a gigantic international-risk-management issue.

    There are many, many agendas at work by people who are not willing to divulge their ultimate goal.

    I'll follow this one with one of quite nearly the opposite bent as this linked article.

    Add your comment.


  34.    Mossack Fonseca: The Nazi, CIA And Nevada Connections… And Why It's Now Rothschild's Turn | Zero Hedge

    So, here we have a Zero Hedge article ripping the Guardian's take/propaganda.

    I'm not sure how overstated this one is either.

    I'm simply presenting it because the mainstream is typically saturated with blatantly false propaganda issued at the behest of the CIA.

    There are many other takes on this whole thing other than this Zero Hedge one; but, Zero Hedge is read by quite a few people, and sometimes it really nails things (usually when the focus isn't laissez-faire sort of stuff).

    There is a great deal of legitimate food for thought in this one.

    Add your comment.


  35.    400 reporters kept the Panama Papers secret for a year. Here's how they pulled it off.

    Why are they all leading with Putin, Putin, Putin when he's reportedly not even named in the "Papers"?

    If the Papers are as big as suggested, millions and millions of people will be "linked" by just 1 or 2 degrees of immediate separation. Will it make every one of them guilty by such associations? Of course not.

    I reserve judgment.

    Nevertheless (and the Putin aspect may be a Mashable decision rather than Jason's), good reporting and writing by Jason Abbruzzese:

    Marina Walker remembered when she heard a source claimed to have possession of leaked data "bigger than anything you have seen before."

    Add your comment.


  36.    Strategic QE: Money Creation for Sustainable Investment (Richard Werner) – YouTube

    Richard Werner really gets it! Of all the major economists I've read and listened to, Richard is one of the closest to what I've been advocating.

    Richard Werner, the inventor of the term 'quantitative easing' argues that the way QE has been implemented recently is failing at stimulating the real economy. Instead, quantitative easing should be targeted to transactions contributing to productive investments such as renewable energies, sustainable industries, infrastructure, education, research and development or even as a baby bonus.

    Note how he uses the term "usury." Also, note that he says it is not justified. He doesn't go as far as I do, but perhaps only Billy Mitchell does.

    Add your comment.


  37.    All Putin's Men: Secret Records Reveal Money Network Tied to Russian Leader · ICIJ

    … generational transfers are signs of the rise of a new Russian aristocracy.

    The Rotenbergs and other billionaires who have flourished under Putin's protection are having an impact on the Russian economy.

    The top 10 percent of wealth holders in Russia own 85 percent of all household wealth in the country, according to a 2014 Credit Suisse report. Meanwhile, 83 percent of the population has less than $10,000 in personal wealth. Inequality in Russia is so bad it deserves its own separate category, the report stated.

    Something about this whole ICIJ thing is off. I don't trust it at all.

    Credit Suisse is highly suspicious in its own right: http://www.corp-research.org/credit-suis se

    That's a bit dated. There's more recent stuff: https://encrypted.google.com/search?hl=e n&source=hp&biw=&bih=&q=%22Credit+Suisse %22+scandal

    It is highly ironic that:

    Preliminary reporting on the Panama Papers leak indicates that Credit Suisse, HSBC, UBS and Société Générale are among the 10 banks that requested the most offshore companies for clients.

    Investigative journalists are supposed to question everything, every source. Here these people are also quoting the US government: St. Petersburg-based Bank Rossiya, which the U.S. government has identified as Putin's personal cashbox. There's no evidence supplied, just a statement from the US government, the same government that for decades said Iran had an active nuclear-weapons program when it did not (according to internal CIA documents that were leaked against the government's desires).

    This is really risky business here. We're talking about a move to ramp up the new cold war. Why let imperialists do that to the rest of us?

    What's the ICIJ really about?

    It will be interesting to see who hacks them and what comes up. I can't see how they aren't going to be put under the microscope themselves. Some of that's already be gun, as you saw with the Zero Hedge story.

    Add your comment.


  38.    Still Report #759 – Trump – Pay off the Debt in 8 Years! – YouTube

    Okay, this will be a bit unusual for this blog. Note: This is not an endorsement of Donald Trump's run for the Presidency anymore than linking to Bernie Sanders' articles is an endorsement of him for President.

    I'm including it because Bill has the ability to simplify things. There are economists who take exception to Bill's view about the sustainability of the current system, but it is also my view that the current system is designed to benefit the few at the expense of the many and is inherently unjust and unnecessary.

    As for Bill's idea about paying down the debt only as the loans come due, I don't think that's necessary; but, there's no reason to be concerned about it if United States Notes are used to pay the interest and principal rather than using Federal Reserve Notes.

    That's about it.

    Add your comment.


  39.    Wildfires Flare Again in Oklahoma, Threatens Town – ABC News

    "We're going to have to really watch it, because if it jumps that river, it's going to be tough to stop again," Lehenbauer said.

    Oklahoma Forestry Services said in a statement that structures had been lost in the fire and in another blaze in the central part of the state. Spokeswoman Hannah Anderson said the agency doesn't have accurate damage totals yet.

    Add your comment.


  40.    Dead, ugly malls turned into productive real estate again by Dallas duo | | Dallas Morning News

    Dallas real estate veterans Frank Mihalopoulos and Anthony Ruggeri have a sixth sense: they travel around the country to see what most would call dead malls.

    In the monumental, half-empty spaces, they see new stores, landscaping, pedestrian walkways, restaurants, maybe a fountain or some other communal spaces and lots of people. Instead of blight, they see filled parking spaces and a town center.

    Add your comment.


  41.    How secret offshore money helps fuel Miami's luxury real-estate boom | Miami Herald

    Money from people linked to wrongdoing abroad is helping to power the gleaming condo towers rising on South Florida's waterfront and pushing home prices far beyond what most locals can afford.

    The leak comes as the U.S. government unleashes an unprecedented crackdown on money laundering in Miami's luxury real-estate market.

    The article is rather long but insightful for those who didn't already know about all of this.

    I've known for many decades.

    Add your comment.


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