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

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) Texas court blocks Houston from using tougher clean-air laws – The Washington Post

2) Elma tackling abandoned properties – City & Region – The Buffalo News

3) Fiscal policy remains critical for much of the world economy | VOX, CEPR's Policy Portal

4) San Francisco and Oakland Losing Working Class Twice as Fast as Expected – Curbed SF

5) Who are the Prominent Policy Makers Thinking About Different Types of QE? – Positive Money

6) Who are the Prominent Economists Working in the Financial Sector that Advocate a Different Type of QE? – Positive Money

7) Who are the prominent journalists who advocate a different type of QE? – Positive Money

8) Sonali Kolhatkar: Yanis Varoufakis, Former Greek Finance Minister, Returns to Public Life More Hopeful Than Ever – Truthdig

9) How the car industry trumped banking for sociopathic corporate behaviour | Karel Williams | The Guardian

10) How CityView Adds Value for Investors – YouTube

11) Why I will vote Remain — Prime Economics

12) Breaking up the big banks won't stop another financial crisis | Brookings Institution

13) Everyone Wants to Get Tough on Antitrust Policy, but Not Really – The New York Times

14) $1M Settlement Reached with Building Owners in Fatal Illinois Apartment Fire

15) Virginia Sets Up Fund to Cope With Sea-Level Rise

16) El Nino dries up Asia as its stormy sister La Nina looms

17) Tax-Saving Strategies for Real Estate Investors: How to Pay Less & Keep More This Year

18) Rescue Helicopters for Stranded Economies

19) Candidate Sanders' Housing Policy Prescription

20) The Unfairness of Housing Purchases Through Time | naked capitalism

21) How Barclays turned a $10 billion profit into a tax loss | Reuters

22) NYC's Largest Residential Passive House Will Rise in Mott Haven – Curbed NY

23) LA Times – Pro photographers labor to show properties in a better light

24) Under pressure, feds to disclose details on Portland poisonous gas detections | OregonLivecom

25) Kenya building collapse: 12 killed, many trapped – CNNcom

26) Deadly Storm Threatens Southeast With Flash Floods After Wreaking Havoc in Texas – NBC News

27) Seattle condos: Short supply puts extra squeeze on housing market | The Seattle Times

  1.    Texas court blocks Houston from using tougher clean-air laws – The Washington Post

    Adrian Shelley, executive director of Air Alliance Houston, an environmental group that had filed a motion in support of the ordinances, called the ruling "bad news for public health in Houston."

    He said the court's decision falls in line with recent actions by the state — including a law last year barring local ordinances that prevent fracking and other oil and natural gas activities that are potentially harmful to the environment — that erode Texas residents' rights to seek environmental and public health protections.

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  2.    Elma tackling abandoned properties – City & Region – The Buffalo News

    The campaign, which Kearns said is becoming an effective tool …, targets lenders who fail to follow through and take legal ownership in the foreclosure process.

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  3.    Fiscal policy remains critical for much of the world economy | VOX, CEPR's Policy Portal

    Jason Furman and Jay C. Shambaugh:

    Evidence from the last eight years is clear that policies that support demand also support economic growth. Increased spending [governmental] and tax cuts had positive effects around the globe while austerity policies generated larger-than-expected contractions.

    The tax-cuts part is shaky at best unless one is talking specifically about tax cuts for the least well off, who will spend what they don't have to pay in taxes.

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  4.    San Francisco and Oakland Losing Working Class Twice as Fast as Expected – Curbed SF

    Working-class people are being priced out of major cities all over America. But the effect is particularly pronounced in the Bay Area with San Francisco, San Jose, and especially Oakland shedding citizenry at rates leaps and bounds ahead of the likes of New York or Chicago.

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  5.    Who are the Prominent Policy Makers Thinking About Different Types of QE? – Positive Money

    I'll let these next three articles speak for themselves.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  6.    Who are the Prominent Economists Working in the Financial Sector that Advocate a Different Type of QE? – Positive Money

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  7.    Who are the prominent journalists who advocate a different type of QE? – Positive Money

    Just one of many:

    Anatole Kaletsky, acclaimed author and journalist for Herald Tribune and Reuters

    "Instead of giving newly created money to bond traders, central banks could distribute it directly to the public. Technically such cash handouts could be described as tax rebates or citizens' dividends, and they would contribute to government deficits in national accounting. But these accounting deficits would not increase national debt burdens, since they would be financed by issuing new money, at zero cost to government or to future generations, instead of selling interest-bearing government bonds. Giving away free money may sound too good to be true or wildly irresponsible, but it is exactly what the Fed and the BoE have been doing for bond traders and bankers since 2009. Directing QE to the general public would not only be much fairer but also more effective."

    http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsk y/2012/08/01/how-about-quantitative-easi ng-for-the-people/

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  8.    Sonali Kolhatkar: Yanis Varoufakis, Former Greek Finance Minister, Returns to Public Life More Hopeful Than Ever – Truthdig

    There is a growing distrust of authoritarianism and capitalism all over the world today. Here in the United States, Varoufakis echoed the campaign catchphrase of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, saying, "We have a political revolution in this country." When I asked him his opinion of Sanders, he shared an anecdote from more than a year ago:

    "On Jan. 26, 2015, the day after our magnificent electoral victory [in the Greek election], I received a phone call from Vermont: 'My name is Bernie Sanders, I am a senator from Vermont, and I'm calling to say we're all watching you and we're praying for you.' What is happening [in the U.S. presidential election] is remarkable. The lesson we learn is that at some point people will respond, progressively and collectively and constructively, to the irrationality of the world we live in."

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  9.    How the car industry trumped banking for sociopathic corporate behaviour | Karel Williams | Opinion | The Guardian

    Since the financial crisis of 2008, we have had multiple scandals about banks and bankers behaving badly — from the misselling of payment protection insurance and interest-rate hedges, to the rigging of Libor and foreign exchange rates, and corporate collusion in money laundering. The banking industry has been singled out for its unhealthy internal culture. But the car emissions scandal shows that sociopathic corporate behaviour is widespread, and its effects are even worse elsewhere.

    Oh, it's bad; but I don't think one can necessarily conclude that fewer people died due to the financial collapse.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  10.    How CityView Adds Value for Investors – YouTube

    CityView CEO Sean Burton sat down with MHN to discuss the company's unique approach to choosing sites for development and investment, as well as one of the top trends impacting the multifamily industry.

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  11.    Why I will vote Remain — Prime Economics

    Ann Pettifor:

    Europe's social welfare model has been severely strained by Anglo-American policies for de-regulation, privatisation and 'structural' changes to labour markets, now alas more widely shared within the EU. Our responsibility for such policies requires that we act responsibly in helping to get them reversed…We cannot now turn our backs on a European economic model that conforms so closely to British economic policies. The social democratic parties, in particular, need to change tack, to promote policies that challenge the neoliberal consensus. This is our task in the coming years.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  12.    Breaking up the big banks won't stop another financial crisis | Brookings Institution

    Simply put, Aaron Klein is flat wrong, though he may well mean well.

    Deregulation led to the Great Recession. Repealing Glass-Steagall was part of that deregulation. It was a bad idea that allowed the banks to become that much more powerful in Congress, etc. Dodd-Frank is constantly being whittled on by that same power. Breaking up those powerful entities would stop that and thereby lessen the likelihood and severity of any future financial downturns.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  13.    Everyone Wants to Get Tough on Antitrust Policy, but Not Really – The New York Times

    Chris Sagers:

    Markets are now so concentrated and ripe for abuse, and the political will for enforcement so lacking, that our antitrust laws seem increasingly hopeless. So we resort instead to some small regulatory interventions to tame a beast we could have kept from creating by just enforcing antitrust in the first place.

    Exactly!

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  14.    $1M Settlement Reached with Building Owners in Fatal Illinois Apartment Fire

    Relatives of six people who perished five years ago in an apartment building fire in suburban Chicago have reached a $1 million legal settlement.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  15.    Virginia Sets Up Fund to Cope With Sea-Level Rise

    Virginia has set up a new revolving loan fund designed to help property owners prepare for rising sea levels.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  16.    El Nino dries up Asia as its stormy sister La Nina looms

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  17.    Tax-Saving Strategies for Real Estate Investors: How to Pay Less & Keep More This Year

    Nice, quick overview: Dave Van Horn:

    … there are way too many deductions and strategies to mention in one article. But what holds most people back from saving and investing the money they would've spent in taxes is that they don't take the time to learn about the tax code or stay organized.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  18.    Rescue Helicopters for Stranded Economies

    For countries where nominal interest rates are at or near zero, fiscal stimulus should be a no-brainer. As long as the interest rate at which a government borrows is less than the sum of inflation, labor-force growth, and labor-productivity growth, the amortization cost of extra liabilities will be negative. Meanwhile, the upside of extra spending could be significant. The Keynesian fiscal multiplier for large industrial economies or for coordinated expansions is believed to be roughly two — meaning that an extra dollar of fiscal expansion would boost real GDP by about two dollars.

    … It is time for central banks to assume responsibility and implement "helicopter money," putting cash directly into the hands of people who will spend it.

    … as David Glasner, an economist at the Federal Trade Commission, has pointed out, attempts to erect an automatic monetary system — whether based on the gold standard, Milton Friedman's k-percent rule, or the Stanford University economist John Taylor's "rules-based monetary policy" — have all crashed and burned spectacularly.

    History has refuted the University of Chicago economist Henry Simons's call for "rules rather than authorities" in monetary policy. The design task in monetary policy is not to construct rules but, instead, to establish authorities with sensible objectives, values, and technocratic competence.

    Success in rebooting the economy will depend on ensuring that the extra cash goes into the hands of those who are constrained in their spending by low incomes and a lack of collateral assets.

    Please notice that J. Bradford DeLong did not mention money-financed spending but rather additional governmental borrowing.

    As for "rules" not working, so what? Just because rules that were proposed back when didn't work doesn't mean no rules or rule will. I'm positive that rather than using people to determine the money supply, a computer program could do it.

    Yes, people would write and tweak that program; but it would still react in real time. It would determine how much, when, and where to issue the money and then do it without the government borrowing a dime.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  19.    Candidate Sanders' Housing Policy Prescription

    A good, quick overview of Bernie Sanders' affordable-housing and other real-estate-related plans:

    Faith Schwartz

    Housing policy, which has pretty much been a back burner issue so far in this campaign, bubbled up to the top recently when Senator Bernie Sanders released a new policy paper that outlined his program for supporting homeownership, expanding affordable housing, helping underwater homeowners, and fighting homelessness.

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  20.    The Unfairness of Housing Purchases Through Time | naked capitalism

    Yves here. While the analysis in this post shows clearly how much and when home purchase costs have increased, in terms of the relationship to average wages, I strongly differ with the proposed solution of addressing the problem via mortgage finance. Subsidies to housing via the inefficient channel of subsidizing mortgages (the interest deduction, for starters) is what helped propel prices into being out of whack with worker wages in the first place. Moreover, given that the average job tenure is a mere four years and a few months, it seems insanely risky for people to buy a house, in that the time between jobs will deplete savings, and housing transaction costs are so so high that if one needs to lower one's housing costs, or move to get a new job, the cost of selling a home will chew into equity unless the buyer was lucky in terms of how the local housing market performed relative to when they bought and sold.

    The best remedy to high purchase prices is more good rentals. Heretofore, rentals have been generally enough "worse" than owning so as to lead people to want to buy a house, aside from the concern that one is paying money to a landlord when you could instead be accumulating home equity. But as Josh Rosner said, "A house with no equity is a rental with debt." If you aren't sure you can stay in a home long enough to accumulate real equity (enough to recoup transaction costs and have a gain), it's not sound to buy a house. And if more people rented, the quality of tenants would be better than they are now, leading to an improvement in the quality of rental properties generally.

    The offset is that historically, housing was how people accumulated wealth. A home was a forced savings mechanism. When you retired, you would live mortgage-free, at lower cost than during your income-earning years, and you could tap into the equity by selling the house and either renting or buying a more modest home. But that model, as indicated above, has been u ndermined by job instability and the high cost of buying a home in the first place.

    By Marc Lavoie, Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

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  21.    How Barclays turned a $10 billion profit into a tax loss | Reuters

    The Luxembourg Ministry of Finance did not respond to requests for comment but has previously denied using tax rules to unfairly attract investment and jobs.

    Why else would they do it?

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  22.    NYC's Largest Residential Passive House Will Rise in Mott Haven – Curbed NY

    Speaking of affordable housing:

    When complete, the building will use 70 percent less energy than conventional buildings.

    Good!

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  23.    LA Times – Pro photographers labor to show properties in a better light

    Listing your home? It pays to hire a pro photographer.

    Everyone seems to be a shutterbug these days, but grainy smartphone pics just don't cut it when it comes to producing eye-catching images that attract prospective buyers.

    "I've had clients tell me, 'I've got an iPhone 6,' and I have to stop myself from cringing," said luxury real estate broker Kofi Nartey of the Agency.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  24.    Under pressure, feds to disclose details on Portland poisonous gas detections | OregonLive.com

    "We do not expect serious health effects from the levels and duration of hydrogen sulfide detected to date," she said, "though those levels could cause short-term transient health effects and very unpleasant odors."

    The agency has withheld basic details about the air testing such as how much hydrogen sulfide was found, saying information wouldn't be disclosed until a May 9 community meeting.

    To me, it makes no sense to wait for a meeting before releasing the findings. People want, and have a right, to know.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  25.    Kenya building collapse: 12 killed, many trapped – CNN.com

    … the building that collapsed had previously been condemned by the National Construction Authority ….

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  26.    Deadly Storm Threatens Southeast With Flash Floods After Wreaking Havoc in Texas – NBC News

    … great-grandmother Lenda Asberry, 64, and her great-grandchildren Jamonicka Johnson, 6; Von Anthony Johnson Jr., 7; Devonte Asberry, 8, and Venetia Asberry, 9 were discovered dead after floodwaters in receded.

    "The City of Palestine has suffered the worst flooding event in my 59 years of living here," said Palestine Mayor Bob Herrington. "I don't recall ever seeing this much water rise so fast and in such a short period of time."

    Lindale Fire Chief Jerry Garner said between 70 and 80 homes in the county were damaged.

    "We were just extremely fortunate with the three injuries we did have that we didn't have any loss of life," he said.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  27.    Seattle condos: Short supply puts extra squeeze on housing market | The Seattle Times

    Housing developers say the threat of lawsuits, frequently over problems that emerge long after construction is finished, discourages banks from financing condo developments. Instead, developers have flooded Seattle, Bellevue and other nearby cities with thousands of new apartments ….

    This year alone, developers are expected to put 7,090 new apartments on the market in Seattle and 4,058 elsewhere in King County, according to Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors.

    Daniels speculates that many of the apartment developments in the works could be built as for-sale housing if the legal risks didn't add so much to the development cost.
    "The easiest way to make money is for apartments, so that's where the investors and developers are going," he said. "Whatever condos are being built have to be more high-end to make the risks worth the cost."

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


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