News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. May 15, 2016

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) Radical Proposals Increase for Socializing Banking System – Public Banking Institute

2) Eurozone's So-Called Recovery Masks A Dark Secret

3) Government Must Play a Role Again in Job Creation – The New York Times

4) New York Alliance Against Insurance Fraud – CBS New York

5) PCS: $3.8B in US Insured Losses Makes Q1 2016 Worst in Decade

6) News – If strong La Niña forms, here's how it will impact the US – The Weather Network

7) Study: Most taxpayers would save a lot of money under President Sanders – Vox

8) Goldman Sachs and Other Big American Banks Abound in New Panama Papers Database

9) 300 economists tell world leaders tax havens 'serve no useful economic purpose' | Press releases | Oxfam GB

10) Missing Workers: The Missing Part of the Unemployment Story | Economic Policy Institute

11) Are you in the US middle class? Try our income calculator | Pew Research Center

12) The Creative Way to Gauge Whether You Can Afford Your Rental's Worst Case Scenario

13) The Grumpy Economist: Regulations and Growth

14) Stumbling and Mumbling: Economics vs bankers

15) With workers' compensation fraud comes soaring insurance costs

16) Sheriff: Jones County trio suspected of arson, fraud – WDAM-TV 7-News-Hattiesburg, MS

17) NOAA's premier forecast model goes 4-D | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

18) Storm Shelter Construction Begins on 1st of 20 Schools in City in Oklahoma

19) Obama Seeks Building Code Changes Amid More Extreme Weather – Bloomberg Politics

20) Wage Growth Buoys California Housing Affordability Index – WORLD PROPERTY JOURNAL Global News Center

21) Civil Engineers Find Trillion-Dollar Infrastructure Funding Gap – Real Time Economics – WSJ

22) LendingClub CEO Exits After Internal Review of Loan Sales – Bloomberg

23) Top 5 Real Estate Investment Mistakes – Early To Rise

24) Property Management Business Solutions Named Franchisor of the Year by Think Realty Magazine

25) Financial secrecy: 5 tricks of the trade | FT World – YouTube

26) TASS: Society & Culture – Rescuers prevent forest fire spread to over 70 communities across Russia

27) Trash-strewn and poorly maintained properties keep Palmer Board of Health busy | masslivecom

28) Wicked Awesome 3D Photography brings real estate to life | News & Observer

29) Hong Kong Property Market in 'Free Fall': Hayman's Bass – Bloomberg

30) 4 Ways to Keep Your Closing Process Moving – Wendy Weir Relocation

31) Insurers shun risk as oil-linked quakes soar in Oklahoma | Reuters

32) Privatising Europe – La Grieta Online | Publicación digital, plataforma cultural y centro de debate.

33) To end corruption, start with the US and UK. They allow it in broad daylight | Jeffrey Sachs | The Guardian

34) Inequality drives stagnation – Economics versus Reality

35) The Fed Made the Poor Poorer – Bloomberg View

36) How Western aid enables graft addiction in Ukraine – The Washington Post

37) Ending "too big to fail": What's the right approach? | Brookings Institution

38) mainly macro: Media, Economics and Brexit

39) "Print the Money": Trump's "Reckless" Proposal Echoes Franklin and Lincoln | WEB OF DEBT BLOG

40) China commodities meltdown could rock the markets—commentary

41) A chronic problem | The Economist

42) Why We Are So Bad at Solving Problems – The Automatic Earth

43) The Other Fire: Fort McMurray's Slow Burn | The Tyee

44) The new era of monopoly is here | The Guardian

45) 'I'll Never Retire': Americans Break Record for Working Past 65 – Bloomberg

46) Economics 101, Good or Bad? | The Baseline Scenario

47) Raghuram Rajan and the Dangers of Helicopter Money – The New Yorker

48) Should the Middle Class Fear the World's Poor? | Boston Review

49) A Global Marshall Plan for Joblessness? – New Economic PerspectivesNew Economic Perspectives

50) NYU's Furman Center Report: New York's Recent History of Gentrification – CityLab

51) Corruption can no longer be dismissed as a developing world problem | Aditya Chakrabortty | The Guardian

52) Business Partner Can Fast-Track Investment Property Purchases – AAOA

53) Fairness and Free Trade

54) 5 Home Improvements that Pay Off—and 5 that Don't | RISMedia's Housecall

55) Camden man accused of illegal real estate transactions

56) Police Make 2 Arrests in Most Recent Kentucky Home Burglary, Fire

57) ATF: 2013 Fire at Texas Fertilizer Plant Intentionally Set

58) Students at University of North Carolina Evacuated from Sinking Apartments

  1.    Radical Proposals Increase for Socializing Banking System – Public Banking Institute

    Matt Stannard:

    In the end, whether you want to "save capitalism" with public banks or use them in order to transition to a post-capitalist economic order, the key component is to democratize and not merely "socialize" finance, although both are important.

    … what I've been saying about democratizing the economy. It's what's missing. It's missing on purpose. The elitist private bankers make sure of it.

    Social simply means public. We already live in a highly mixed economy. Public roads are socially owned. What kind of minds want every road to be a privately owned toll road? The welfare state would have to subsidize the poor to drive on the roads anywhere.

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  2.    Eurozone's So-Called Recovery Masks A Dark Secret

    John Weeks:

    The facilitation of internal trade should be the central economic purpose of the European Union. To state the same thing negatively, the purpose should not be to forge 19 eurozone countries into an export superpower. Cooperation for convergence could raise living standards in all countries. The function of becoming an export powerhouse has for centuries been to create a powerful state to contest global power through beggar-thy-neighbour trade strategy.

    Exactly!

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  3.    Government Must Play a Role Again in Job Creation – The New York Times

    The good news is that the United States may have the best opportunity in decades to overcome its anti-government political biases. Donald J. Trump, the admittedly unusual Republican standard-bearer, has publicly called for extensive public investment in infrastructure.

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  4.    New York Alliance Against Insurance Fraud – CBS New York

    Bedeviled by sagging bank accounts and burdensome mortgages, some cash-strapped building owners try to burn their way out of debt. Lighting up spilled gasoline or interior gas lines seems like an easy answer. One flick of a match and filing an insurance claim and the problem is solved.

    Except that these are amateur arsonists and screw-ups. Natural gas and gasoline are volatile. When lit, they can ignite with more force than TNT. Instead of obediently burning down, buildings can explode with unforeseen impact.

    The blast can kill the arsonists and wreck neighboring homes and businesses. Fire fighters and bystanders can be seriously injured.

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  5.    PCS: $3.8B in US Insured Losses Makes Q1 2016 Worst in Decade

    … events were the worst in a decade in terms of frequency and severity ….

    El Nino is slowing and ending. Always be prepared for change. La Nina can surprise.

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  6.    News – If strong La Niña forms, here's how it will impact the U.S. – The Weather Network

    See what I mean?

    While there is still the potential for this El Niño to have a few surprises in store for us, given the greater certainty of the latest forecast, the questions are shifting from "when will the El Niño be gone?" and "will there be a La Niña?" to "how strong will the La Niña be?" and "how long will it last?"

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  7.    Study: Most taxpayers would save a lot of money under President Sanders – Vox

    The poorest 20 percent of households have an adjusted gross income of about $3,600. This is the amount of money they make in a year, minus certain deductions like college tuition and alimony.

    Under Sanders's plan, that group would get an average of $10,265 in benefits, while only paying $209 more in taxes per year. That's a pretty good tradeoff.

    It's a little more daunting for households in the middle quintile, who earn an average of $41,500 a year — and Sanders wants them to pay an additional $4,500 in taxes. That's a huge tax increase. But they would get about $13,000 in benefits, which more than offsets the tax hike.

    "We have never seen a proposal as progressive as Sanders' tax and transfer plan," TPC executive director Len Berman told reporters on a Monday phone call.

    Now imagine that it could all be done without raising taxes at all on anyone, without the government borrowing an additional dime, and without causing runaway inflation.

    How? Issue debt-free money and make sure that the increases in spending are matched by increases in real, sustainable productivity.

    Is it too good to be true? No. It's too good to be allowed by the economic powers that be. The only thing holding us back is bad bankers. That's it. Get them out of the way, and the sky's the limit.

    As we all know, beyond the sky is the vast deepness of space. So, what limit? Imagination. That's all. There's no limit to productive development. We can clean our environment, save it and ourselves, and explore the Heavens.

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  8.    Goldman Sachs and Other Big American Banks Abound in New Panama Papers Database

    Speaking of the banker powers that be:

    Facing pressure to disclose more information on how the world's wealthiest people may be avoiding their taxes, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung released on Monday a searchable database of the Panama Papers, detailing names, banks, trusts and other entities participating in offshore tax shelters.

    Among them are top American banks, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

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  9.    300 economists tell world leaders tax havens 'serve no useful economic purpose' | Press releases | Oxfam GB

    More about those bankers:

    More than 300 leading economists from 30 countries have today written to world leaders warning there is no economic justification for allowing tax havens and urging them to lift the veil on offshore secrecy. The letter comes ahead of the Government's anti-corruption summit in London on Thursday, which politicians from 40 countries as well as World Bank and IMF representatives are expected to attend.

    Signatories include Thomas Piketty, author of best-selling 'Capital in the Twenty-First Century'; Angus Deaton, the Edinburgh-born 2015 Nobel Prize-winner for economics, Ha-Joon Chang, a development economist at Cambridge University, and Nora Lustig, professor of Latin American Economics at Tulane University, as well as influential experts who advise policymakers, such as Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University's Earth Institute and an adviser to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and Olivier Blanchard, former IMF chief economist.

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  10.    Missing Workers: The Missing Part of the Unemployment Story | Economic Policy Institute

    You see, this is why I wrote in my last edition that 2% is probably the top in terms of unemployed people not accounted for in the standard Bureau of Labor Statistics reports and not the 15% suggested by Donald Trump.

    It's also why the Fed would be crazy to raise rates or to even be considering it right now.

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  11.    Are you in the US middle class? Try our income calculator | Pew Research Center

    You can use this to also gauge your tenants.

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  12.    The Creative Way to Gauge Whether You Can Afford Your Rental's Worst Case Scenario

    "I can't do it — there's no margin in my cost of living."

    For many people, this is a reality. It's not wise to put your family in financial jeopardy for the dream of landlording. In good times, the rental income may help you. In bad times, the cost of ownership will be the straw that breaks your financial back. Experienced landlords rely on cash reserves. There's no way around patching a leaky roof.

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  13.    The Grumpy Economist: Regulations and Growth

    I don't need to read the paper before saying that I'm positive that this is a goofy study. Why? There is no way in Hell that anyone with any brains can't already see from economic history that a complete lack of regulations would spell total chaos with very severe recessions occurring much more frequently. It was the New Deal regulations that smoothed out the economic cycle quite a bit. Rolling back those regulations (deregulation and a failure to put in place proper new ones) caused the Great Recession! End of story.

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  14.    Stumbling and Mumbling: Economics vs bankers

    Chris Dillow brings a great deal together in a relatively short piece here.

    My point here is not just that the financial system is deeply dysfunctional and serves the interests of state-subsidized rent-seekers much better than those of customers. It's also that this fact is evident through the lens of standard economics. Conventional economics is not only correct in same ways, but can serve a radical purpose.

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  15.    With workers' compensation fraud comes soaring insurance costs

    "We were told by other employees that they were getting calls and people were coaching them" to file cases, Kim said.

    Among insurance executives, the dynamics in Southern California are notorious: Firms recruit workers to file claims, then pressure them to refer their co-workers to a small circle of lawyers and doctors.

    Robert Hutchinson, an attorney representing a whistleblower in a lawsuit against an alleged medical mill that saw Premier workers, said even if he prevails in court against the medical providers, the damage to firms like Kim's is undeniable.

    Christina Sills started working at Pain Relief's Reseda, California, office in late 2011 as a billing and collections manager. The clinic had seven sites at its peak, mostly in Los Angeles County.

    Sills said she was told to bill insurers based on the patient care information in spreadsheets. Trouble was, she said, the medical records required to back up the bills were either missing or suspicious.

    Sills, who has worked in the medical field since 1977, filed the whistleblower lawsuit in July 2013 against the Pain Relief clinics and their owner, Bahar Gharib-Danesh. One email from Gharib-Danesh, submitted as an exhibit in the case, says: "Bill Bill Bill NO EXCUSE."

    Federal prosecutors confirmed Sills' suspicions in August when they indicted Gharib-Danesh, and John Terrence, a Marina Del Rey psychologist, on health care fraud. Both have pleaded not guilty in the case.

    A fraud investigator for a major workers' compensation insurance firm acknowledged in court testimony that insurance firms sometimes just throw a bit of cash at suspicious medical operators and let employers foot the bill.

    It's a "business decision" that gets made, given that the alternative — paying experienced attorneys to combat fraud — is more expensive, according to the 201 5 court testimony of Gordon Oard, an investigator for the major workers' compensation insurer Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Cos.

    From there, the cost of workers' compensation fraud is built into insurance policies — and passed on to employers who pay the premiums.

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  16.    Sheriff: Jones County trio suspected of arson, fraud – WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

    A fully engulfed house fire back in January has now been determined an arson and fraud case.

    The insurance company contacted investigators after Thornton submitted a list of items that she claimed were damaged in the fire.

    A search warrant was issued Monday where the contents of that list were located at a business owned by Samuel Taylor and Justin Taylor.

    Investigators also took sworn statements from witnesses that stated Samuel Taylor admitted to starting the house fire, and that Justin also had knowledge of the plan.

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  17.    NOAA's premier forecast model goes 4-D | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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  18.    Storm Shelter Construction Begins on 1st of 20 Schools in City in Oklahoma

    Construction is underway at the first of 20 Tulsa, Okla.-area schools that will receive new classroom or library additions to double as storm shelters.

    Is it enough?

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  19.    Obama Seeks Building Code Changes Amid More Extreme Weather – Bloomberg Politics

    Spend more now to spend 4 times less later.

    Stronger buildings and infrastructure come at a cost, but the White House points to a 2005 study by the National Institute of Building Sciences that found every $1 spent mitigating potential hazards leads to an average of $4 in future benefits. Because the building code work is just beginning, there's no cost estimate yet for how much stricter codes would add to construction costs, Hill said.

    There aren't national building codes in the U.S. States and localities generally adopt common standards set by organizations that are part of the International Code Council.

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  20.    Wage Growth Buoys California Housing Affordability Index – WORLD PROPERTY JOURNAL Global News Center

    If you don't show the mean average of wages/salaries and housing, it's obfuscation (deliberate or not).

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  21.    Civil Engineers Find Trillion-Dollar Infrastructure Funding Gap – Real Time Economics – WSJ

    "Print" the money (debt-free), and let's get it on increasing productivity and GDP. Hmmm, rhymes.

    The U.S. needs to invest $1.4 trillion in infrastructure between now and 2025 and $5.2 trillion by 2040, a civil engineering trade group said Tuesday, almost double what the country is projected to spend over that period.

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  22.    LendingClub CEO Exits After Internal Review of Loan Sales – Bloomberg

    Why is due diligence so, so important?

    "Lending Club is the bellwether in the industry when it comes to best practices, so investors are going to assume that this could be pervasive at second- and third-tier platforms, too," Cormac Leech, a senior analyst who specializes in peer-to-peer lending at London-based Liberum Capital Ltd., said in an interview. "Investors won't give the industry the benefit of the doubt."

    Crowd funding has to up its game.

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  23.    Top 5 Real Estate Investment Mistakes – Early To Rise

    The many numbers involved in real estate investment:

    These aren't all of them, and they're not in any particular order, but you must do your research and due diligence to identify your costs and risk versus reward. Some apply to all strategies and some only to rental property investment.

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  24.    Property Management Business Solutions Named Franchisor of the Year by Think Realty Magazine

    Property Management Business Solutions, LLC, the franchisor of Real Property Management, the nation's leading full-service property management organization, has been named Franchisor of the Year by Think Realty Magazine.

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  25.    Financial secrecy: 5 tricks of the trade | FT World – YouTube

    Clandestine finance is under scrutiny as never before. The FT's Tom Burgis provides a guide to some of the techniques that allow money to be moved around in secrecy.

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  26.    TASS: Society & Culture – Rescuers prevent forest fire spread to over 70 communities across Russia

    Rescuers have prevented forest fires from spreading to over 70 populated settlements across Russia in the past twenty-four hours along with the help of aviation, Head of the Emergencies Ministry's National Crisis Management Center Viktor Yatsutsenko said on Wednesday.

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  27.    Trash-strewn and poorly maintained properties keep Palmer Board of Health busy | masslive.com

    "Some of the larger cases involve abandoned properties with no owner or extremely hard to contact owners. (i.e., no phone numbers or forwarding address). Also bank properties can be troublesome with out-of-state contacts and out-of-state property preservation teams. Often times with foreclosed properties and property, title transfers can halt our enforcement and make us chase a new owner," the document states.

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  28.    Wicked Awesome 3D Photography brings real estate to life | News & Observer

    "We joke about the photo slide shows. In the generation we are in now, the attention span isn't enough to make it through a slide show."

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  29.    Hong Kong Property Market in 'Free Fall': Hayman's Bass – Bloomberg

    The Chinese credit system, according to Bass, is "one of the biggest macro imbalances the world has ever seen." The fund manager said China is already experiencing a "hard landing as we speak." He said he isn't a "permanent bear" on China, instead describing himself as a pragmatist.

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  30.    4 Ways to Keep Your Closing Process Moving – Wendy Weir Relocation

    Wendy Weir:

    Buyers and sellers typically plan to meet the closing deadline in good faith. In some parts of the country, there are no consequences for closing delays, while in others, a few days' delay is allowed without ill effects. However, delays most often involve a monetary penalty or require some negotiation.

    One closing will frequently have an effect on many others. If a seller is simultaneously trying to buy a home, and their purchase closing can't happen until they sell, and then their seller needs to close to buy, the situation can get tricky.

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  31.    Insurers shun risk as oil-linked quakes soar in Oklahoma | Reuters

    May I say, "Told ya"?

    Even as they insured more and more properties against earthquakes in the past two years, six insurers hiked premiums by as much as 260 percent and three increased deductibles. Three companies stopped writing new earthquake insurance altogether, state regulatory filings obtained by Reuters show. Several insurers took more than one of those steps.

    The same thing will happen with global warming concerning storm and other coverage that will become too risky for insurers.

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  32.    Privatising Europe – La Grieta Online | Publicación digital, plataforma cultural y centro de debate.

    Matthijs Peters:

    … the sale of state assets during a recession have consistently failed to meet revenue expectations. This has most notably been the case in Greece, where an extensive privatisation programme was part of the country's deal with the Troika. Whereas the original Memorandum of Understanding foresaw a 50 billion euro target in privatisation revenues by the end of 2015, the state has so far managed to collect a measly 7.7 billion by selling some of their most profitable state assets.

    Conflicts of interest in privatisation cases such as Aena and Royal Mail lead to heavy losses for states, although they seem to be a recurring phenomenon when national governments are forced to sell their public heirlooms in times of recession for the sake of certain rationales. The Lazard cases are no exceptions and many privatisations in Troika countries have also been subject to the same kind of nepotism and corruption, causing these states to lose out on billions of euros of potential revenue. …

    "The studied private companies did indeed seek to optimize cost efficiency; however, rather than by improving their technical efficiency, they tended to do this by increasing prices for consumers and lowering labour standards and wages"

    … It cannot be taken for granted that [outsourcing, privatisation or] PPPs are more efficient than public investment and government supply of services…"

    … certain big corporate actors are actively involved in promoting a pro-privatisation tendency in order to profit from it themselves. As La Industria de la Privatizacion en Europa shows, private actors such as financial advisors, banks, the 'Big Four' accountancy firms and certain legal agents actively endorse and lobby for privatisation and pro-liberalization measures, both on the national and on the European level.

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  33.    To end corruption, start with the US and UK. They allow it in broad daylight | Jeffrey Sachs | Opinion | The Guardian

    Jeffrey Sachs has become a first-class muckraker. Muckrakers are indispensable to democracy!

    The tentacles of corruption reach deep into the UK (and US) financial systems. Banks in the City of London and Wall Street have paid tens of billions of dollars of fines for insider trading, financial fraud, price rigging and other financial crimes in recent years. Yet almost no leading bankers have taken a hit for their organization's malfeasance. It's hard to escape the conclusion that the major financial firms are part of a global network of organized financial crime.

    The law demands that we atone

    When we take things we do not own

    But leaves the lords and ladies fine

    Who take things that are yours and mine.

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  34.    Inequality drives stagnation – Economics versus Reality

    Quite good:

    John M Legge:

    Growing inequality acts as a drag on economic growth and contributes to the current stagnation of many of the world's developed economies. The basis for this link can be found in Keynes.

    Simply put, there's plenty of demand (actually need), but the wrong people have the money. Solution: Give the right people the money.

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  35.    The Fed Made the Poor Poorer – Bloomberg View

    … inequality rose because monetary policy was too tight, not because it was too easy.

    I'm glad Narayana Kocherlakota quit the Fed so he can really press these issues more.

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  36.    How Western aid enables graft addiction in Ukraine – The Washington Post

    Brought to you by neoliberal economics:

    The looting of state-owned companies by oligarchs and state officials, including figures close to the president and former prime minister, remains very much alive (see here and here). Privatizing these enterprises is no solution; if history is any guide, they will be sold to government cronies for a song (see here, here and here). Tax and customs fraud along with myriad subsidies have further enriched powerful insiders, hollowing out the state in the process.

    Ukraine's leaders might have constructed effective state institutions capable of preventing such plundering and fostered a market economy that can maximize tax revenue. But their virtually unlimited access to Western assistance has freed them from the need to do so. It has also heightened their interest in maintaining the status quo.

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  37.    Ending "too big to fail": What's the right approach? | Brookings Institution

    Ben Bernanke mentions political power but then allows "Bank A" without mentioning Bank A's political power.

    Certainly, TBTF is a (big) problem, and there are other concerns associated with size, like undue political influence on the part of large firms. …

    Firm size does not appear to be the only source of influence, though. Community banks, tiny individually and a small part of the sector even taken together, often wield substantial political power. One could also imagine addressing the issue of political influence more directly, through greater transparency about corporate contributions for example.

    At least he leaves it all open for discussion.

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  38.    mainly macro: Media, Economics and Brexit

    Simon Wren-Lewis:

    The main response of the Leave campaign has been to say all economic forecasts are hopeless. They are no doubt referring to unconditional macro forecasts of the 'what will growth be next year' type. However the assessments made by all these economists and economic institutions are not unconditional forecasts, but conditional forecasts: what difference will Brexit make. They are much more reliable than unconditional forecasts. (This point can be got across with simple analogies: a doctor will tell you that being overweight increases the chance of a heart attack, but not when you will have one.)

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  39.    "Print the Money": Trump's "Reckless" Proposal Echoes Franklin and Lincoln | WEB OF DEBT BLOG

    A very nice article by Ellen Brown:

    Financial author Richard Duncan makes a strong case for going further than just monetizing existing debt. He argues that under current market conditions, the US could actually rebuild its collapsing infrastructure by just printing the money, without causing price inflation. Prices go up when demand (money) exceeds supply (goods and services); and with automation and the availability of cheap labor in vast global markets today, supply can keep up with demand for decades to come. Duncan observes:

    The combination of fiat money and Globalization creates a unique moment in history where the governments of the developed economies can print money on an aggressive scale without causing inflation. They should take advantage of this once-in-history opportunity . . . .

    Returning the Power to Create Money to the People

    The right of government to issue its own money was one of the principles for which the American Revolution was fought. Americans are increasingly waking up to the fact that the vast majority of the money supply is no longer issued by the government but is created by private banks when they make loans; and that with that power goes enormous power over the economy itself.

    The issue that should be debated is one that dominated political discussion in the 19th century but that few candidates are even aware of today: should creation and control of the money supply be public or private? Donald Trump's willingness to transgress the conservative taboo against public money creation is a welcome step in opening that debate.

    For many years, I've been putting forth this idea of paying off the national debt. It's gratifying to see it getting mainstream attention, even if the mainstream media is nearly devoid of fundamental knowledge and understanding of economics and banking mechanics.

    BTW, paying off the national debt could be, and should be, done in one fell swoop. The welfare safety net should be in place to allow not one person to fall between any cracks. Important planks include:

    • A guaranteed living income
    • Universal healthcare, and
    • Free tuition, board, housing, and reasonable transportation for all students getting passing grades.

    Then there's infrastructure and research and development. We can definitely pay for it all and all without scary inflation getting out of control.

    The fearmongers about all of this are the private bankers who have been needlessly leeching while holding the rest of society down. Those bankers wouldn't fall either, but they would have to find, or be given, truly productive work to do for once.

    Ellen Brown for US Treasurer! She'd actually make a very good one, probably the best we've ever had. Why? Because she 1) is extremely resourceful 2) is open to new and "lost" knowledge 3) is practical, and most importantly 4) always puts the needs and wants of the People first!

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  40.    China commodities meltdown could rock the markets—commentary

    Ron Insana:

    … the rebound in inflation expectations could be a false signal, which on its face, reads as an indicator of a rebound in demand for raw materials, or a sign that the global economy could be stabilizing and re-accelerating.

    That's the type of false signal that could convince the Fed that inflation is accelerating, causing them to mistakenly raise rates. While that hasn't happened yet, it is a risk that bears watching.

    This is the Wild Wild East of markets these days. After speculating excessively in real estate a few years ago, in stocks last year, driven by heavy margin buying and then a crash, Chinese investors and traders have quickly moved on to commodities.

    These rolling bubbles are making the Chinese economy more and more unstable and more susceptible to a much-feared "hard landing" in the economy.

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  41.    A chronic problem | The Economist

    Debt forgiveness (the old idea of a jubilee) sounds good in theory. But writing off either private-sector or government debt could cripple the financial sector, creating the very crisis the measure was designed to avoid.

    Ah, wrong. Why? The author does the typical shortsighted thinking endemic in the "financial" sector: ignore other measures that could be taken to avoid the problem.

    Look, the very nature of the so-called financial sector needs to be radically altered. We need the money to be nationalized and the banking system to be transformed into a public utility. The economy needs to be fully democratized from the ground up. If done intelligently, those steps would not only avoid the problem but would finally unleash national productivity without inflation or deflation ever being a problem again.

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  42.    Why We Are So Bad at Solving Problems – The Automatic Earth

    Pessimism is contagious and caused by inside-the-box thinking.

    Raúl Ilargi Meijer:

    I am not very optimistic about the fate of mankind as it is, and that has a lot to do with what I cite here, that while our problems tend to evolve in exponential ways, our attempts at solving them move in linear fashion.

    Wrong. Democracy is the solution. The problem is the blockage standing in the way of full democracy. With democracy, we'd have transparency. With transparency, the People would be able to see, for the first time ever, what to address. This article is based upon the pattern of behavior of undemocratic, nontransparent history. The pessimism is the result of anti-democracy. If we must be single-issue, the best issue is pro-democracy (which means pro-transparency).

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  43.    The Other Fire: Fort McMurray's Slow Burn | The Tyee

    Andrew Nikiforuk:

    What resembles a string of bad luck may actually be the unfortunate consequence of rapidly developing a high risk and volatile resource with no real safety net.

    … Carbon Tracker, a market friendly group, now informs investors that low oil prices will favor existing production from low carbon and low cost conventional sources.

    Since the 1980s Koch Industries has been buying Canada's bitumen crude and turning it into high value jet fuel and gasoline at their Pine Bend refinery. In fact Koch Industries now gobbles up 300,000 barrels of bitumen a day and remains the single largest buyer of Canada's dirtiest crude. To the Kochs it's a no brainer: bitumen offers some of the most attractive refinery margins in the world.

    With the oil price collapse the Kochs keep on making more money, while Alberta gets poorer.

    The wise course of action for Alberta and Canada, therefore, rather than being caught by surprise, would be to plan for an orderly transition that protects communities and oilsands workers, and rewards them for the economic contributions they've made by providing funds for retraining and industry diversification.

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  44.    The new era of monopoly is here | Business | The Guardian

    This is a tightly reasoned, succinct analysis by Joe Stiglitz:

    … the large bonuses paid to banks' CEOs as they led their firms to ruin and the economy to the brink of collapse are hard to reconcile with the belief that individuals' pay has anything to do with their social contributions. Of course, historically, the oppression of large groups — slaves, women, and minorities of various types — are obvious instances where inequalities are the result of power relationships, not marginal returns.

    In today's economy, many sectors — telecoms, cable TV, digital branches from social media to internet search, health insurance, pharmaceuticals, agro-business, and many more — cannot be understood through the lens of competition. In these sectors, what competition exists is oligopolistic, not the "pure" competition depicted in textbooks.

    Some of the increase in market power is the result of changes in technology and economic structure: consider network economies and the growth of locally provided service-sector industries. Some is because firms — Microsoft and drug companies are good examples — have learned better how to erect and maintain entry barriers, often assisted by conservative political forces that justify lax anti-trust enforcement and the failure to limit market power on the grounds that markets are "naturally" competitive. And some of it reflects the naked abuse and leveraging of market power through the political process: Large banks, for example, lobbied the US Congress to amend or repeal legislation separating commercial banking from other areas of finance.

    … if markets are based on exploitation, the rationale for laissez-faire disappears. Indeed, in that case, the battle against entrenched power is not only a battle for democracy; it is also a battle for efficiency and shared prosperity.

    Many leftists have a tendency toward massively excessive verbiage. Joe is far from guilty of that.

    Thank you, Joe, for boiling things down for the lay people. Keep reaching. Keep working to think outside the box. Keep bringing your findings to the public's attention.

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


  45.    'I'll Never Retire': Americans Break Record for Working Past 65 – Bloomberg

    What I've been saying:

    When asked to describe their plans for retirement, 27 percent of Americans said they will "keep working as long as possible," a 2015 Federal Reserve study found. Another 12 percent said they don't plan to retire at all.

    Why are more people putting off retirement?

    Three in five retirees surveyed by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies said making money or earning benefits was at least one reason they had retired later than they planned to. Almost half said financial problems were their main reason for working past 65.

    Thirty-six percent of respondents told Transamerica they had worked past 65 mainly because they enjoy their jobs or "want to stay involved."

    Education probably comes into play here. People with college and graduate degrees tend to work later than those with less schooling, according to a 2013 study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. And since 1985, the share of older Americans with college degrees has tripled, to about a third of 60- to 74-year-olds.

    There's some evidence that working can actually improve the health of older people, though studies have also found the opposite. A February study of U.S. factory workers found that retirement was good for their health.

    Retirement from work that's hard on the body is good for health. Some people work at such hard-on-the-body jobs so long that they can't work anymore even at so-called easy jobs. This means that we, as a society, need to make it vastly easier for people to move from various types of labor while we also pay them more for doing the hard work. Hard work isn't always bad for one. It can increase fitness. The issue is with how long one stays at it.

    Secondly and concerning the older workers staying in the jobs market, the better the economy becomes, the more jobs become available, the more older people who've given up looking all the time for work will come back into the market because of financial reasons. This will keep wage inflation down and make it harder for younger people who lack experience (even though the older ones will be rusty). What we ought to do is give the older people better incomes than provided under Social Security. SS is great, but the payouts certainly could easily be increased. There's plenty of inflation slack (if I may coin a term) to allow for it without changing anything else (though we most certainly do need to change other things as well).

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


  46.    Economics 101, Good or Bad? | The Baseline Scenario

    James Kwak:

    In the past forty years, simplistic applications of Economics 101 concepts, stripped of nuance or empirical verification, have swept the policy field in areas from labor markets to taxes to health care. They now constitute virtually the whole of the establishment Republican Party's economic policy, as represented by Paul Ryan (who talks exactly like someone with an exaggerated faith in a handful of Economics 101 snippets). The problem isn't Economics 101—it's the transformation of Economics 101 into an ideology that, like most ideologies, claims the status of objective truth.

    Well said.

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  47.    Raghuram Rajan and the Dangers of Helicopter Money – The New Yorker

    You see, I'm not the only one who sees it when the fuller context of others is simply ignored to make a point.

    John Cassidy:

    … approach that Bernanke concentrated on in his article. Under one proposal he considered, Congress would "create, by statute, a special Treasury account at the Fed, and to give the Fed . . . the sole authority to 'fill' the account, perhaps up to some prespecified limit." Most of the time, the account would be empty, but when the Fed deemed it necessary it could top up the account to enable the federal government to raise its expenditures or cut taxes without the Treasury issuing any extra bonds.

    In failing to consider such options, which Turner also discussed in his book, Rajan didn't do full justice to the case put forward by exponents of the helicopter-drop approach. He also didn't linger on the argument that quantitative easing, which in the United States has involved the creation of trillions of dollars, is tantamount to adopting policies that involve minting more money. (The main difference is who receives the new money: in quantitative easing, the recipients are commercial banks, from which the central banks buy government bonds and other securities; in a helicopter drop, the public or the fiscal authority are the recipients.)

    As I wrote in an earlier edition and in response to Rajan, if the poor save some of it, issue more so they'll feel comfortable spending some of it. BTW, the vast majority of the poor in the US and other "developed" countries would use the income to pay off high-interest debts. We'd need to give them enough to do that and some more so they could save a nestegg and then some more so they'd feel comfortable spending. We'd also need this to be permanent rather than Bernanke's model where the unelected Fed makes the decisions of when and how much.

    "Monetary-and-Banking-Reform Plat form for The United States": http://propertypak.com/introduction-home  /articles/monetary-and-banking-reform-p latform-for-the-united-states/

    Let the light in.

    Lift the bottom first.

    Leave absolutely nobody behind for any reason.

    Invest in what we need most in a prioritized manner.

    Make peace.

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  48.    Should the Middle Class Fear the World's Poor? | Boston Review

    Marshall Steinbaum:

    … dissatisfaction with trade and with globalization more generally has driven a populist upsurge—perhaps most concretely in the rise of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, foreshadowed by the Occupy movement. The many elite pundits who scorned the dire predictions of trade liberalization's opponents in the 1990s have to admit globalization has failed to produce the promised prosperity at home.

    But the answer is not to justify globalization by looking to gains made elsewhere. The tradeoff thesis does not stand up to scrutiny, and defending globalization by its success abroad seems doomed to failure. Indeed, it is important to note what a profound rhetorical retreat it amounts to. For decades, the policy-making establishment assured the public that the gains from globalization at home would outweigh the losses, and the winners would compensate the losers. It is hard to make that case now. Hence the retreat to grounding the argument for free capital mobility in the gains to the world's poor.

    To take one example, the Trans-Pacific Partnership arises from a moment in geostrategic politics that favors the United States with a strong negotiating position: would-be trading partners in Southeast Asia would rather be in our economic orbit than China's. What did our negotiators do with this advantage? They imposed intellectual property protections and an "Investor-State Dispute Resolution" mechanism that supersedes our trading partners' domestic law, both of which are the top demands of would-be outsourcing industries in order to reduce the danger they would face if their intellectual property fell off the back of a truck in Southeast Asia or if they were ensnared in some sort of domestic political or regulatory controversy there. And those guarantees, in turn, make the threat to take jobs overseas more credible. What we did not u se our negotiating power to achieve is international labor or environmental standards that might have put the muscle of access to America's domestic consumers behind our ostensible foreign policy priorities, because a trade agreement with those elements would do the opposite of what U.S. elites want out of trade policy: maximizing trade imbalances.

    … Democracy is supposed to operate as a natural check to bring the elite policy-making consensus in line with popular opinion and interest; playing the domestic middle class against a foreign one is one of many ways to keep that from happening. Asking which ought to suffer to benefit the other distracts attention from the real issue: their joint exploitation at the hands of globally mobile capital.

    Hallelujah! That's entirely in sync with what I've been writing in this blog (and backing up with facts).

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  49.    A Global Marshall Plan for Joblessness? – New Economic PerspectivesNew Economic Perspectives

    This is an MMT (Modern Money Theory) effort:

    Pavlina Tcherneva:

    … unemployment kills. Literally. Research shows that one in five suicides is related to unemployment, and joblessness causes 32—37 percent excess mortality for men. And while for women the impact is less clear, we know that there are robust and lasting negative effects from unemployment on social participation and social capital — all prerequisites for a fulfilling and productive life at home and in the workplace. The deep negative impact of unemployment on individuals' mental and physical health is well-established. And joblessness has been found to have strong scarring effects on life satisfaction.

    The link between crime and unemployment is also well-established. Certain criminal activities vary with the business cycle, and studies have found significant and sizable impact of unemployment on the rates of specific violent and property crimes. The connection between youth unemployment and crime is particularly troubling in the context of the ILO's findings that 74 million young people are unemployed globally (one third of their overall global unemployment estimate). Other studies suggest that the actual number of jobless youth around the world may be six or seven times the ILO estimates.

    Unemployment doesn't just harm the unemployed. It also harms their children and families. It exacerbates infant mortality, depression, alcohol consumption, and the spread of infectious disease. And joblessness is a root cause of human/child trafficking and global sexual and labor exploitation.

    This list only scratches the surface of the insidious effects of unemployment. …

    … a Global Green New Deal program. Whether it involves green projects, infrastructure projects, community projects, or care projects, there is no shortage of projects that need doing.

    … Today, not only do we lack labor standards and policies as outlined under the ITO, but we urgently ne ed a set of binding environmental standards as well.

    In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act authorized $848 billion in economic stimulus, spread over 4 years, or a little over 1% of GDP per year. It aimed to save or create 3-4 million jobs. Had the funds been disbursed as they were under the New Deal, namely towards direct employment programs and public investment, the ARRA could have created 20 million living-wage jobs, virtually wiping out all of the unemployment and underemployment in the U.S.

    Read that last paragraph again. Focus on the tail end: "the ARRA could have created 20 million living-wage jobs, virtually wiping out all of the unemployment and underemployment in the U.S."

    What's the argument against it? Inflation: fears of inflation. At least that's what we're told or taught to believe. I, for one, don't buy it for a second. My "theory" is that ego is the main problem.

    There are egotists at what's called the top of the economic pyramid. They want to keep others down so they (the egotists) will feel smugly superior and more deserving because those of lesser "worth" are too stupid to take what they want. Is that a hyper-cynical view? I'm not saying that all people who are in the upper economic class are that way. I'm saying that enough of them are that the masses of the People are, in fact, down when they could easily be up too if not for those egotists.

    What's my take on this Global Marshall Plan? Well, I'm at the extremely democratic end of the MMT spectrum. It's taken me many years to arrive where I can express it in so few words.

    I'm interested in the welfare of the People as a whole and individually. The fight between the private and public doesn't really matter. Let those chips fall where they may. Give the whole people the transparent, informed say. That's my bottom line. Everything good in humanity will rise to the top if the People have nothing withheld from them by others (nothing withheld by any other human that would alter views were it disclosed).

    In other words, I have faith in the human spirit. I truly believe the truth sets one free. Selfish, greedy people are withholding information in order to keep the People down. That's evil. It's a sign of mental illness. Those ill people ought not be in charge of our national and global economies.

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  50.    NYU's Furman Center Report: New York's Recent History of Gentrification – CityLab

    Along with gentrification, the city has also seen skyrocketing rents and escalating rent burdens, which have fallen most heavily on the poor and disadvantaged. New York's overall rent burden (which the report measures as the share of households spending 30 percent or more of their pre-tax income on rent) rose from 40.7 percent in 2000 to 51.7 percent in 2010-2014. Although all neighborhoods saw their rent burdens rise, gentrifying areas once again experienced the sharpest increase (from 42.3 percent in 2000 to 52.9 percent in 2010-2014). And yet, by 2010-2014, there was a greater share of rent-burdened households in non-gentrifying neighborhoods (58.5 percent), while higher-income neighborhoods saw slightly smaller shares than the rest (49.3 percent). Naturally, New York's low-income households in gentrifying neighborhoods were the most rent-burdened of all, with an increase of 21 percentage points from 2000 to 2010-2014. But, surprisingly, moderate-income households in these neighborhoods saw a comparable increase of 18 percentage points during this same time period.

    Overall, this suggests that the impact of gentrification occurs more through increased rent burdens than direct displacement (as earlier research has argued). As New York has gentrified, rent burdens have increased for many residents. Ultimately, New York City continues to be class-divided between the rich and poor as its older, middle-class neighborhoods give way to gentrification.

    I seriously like properties being rehabbed when possible: when physically not beyond being saved. At the same time, there seems to be no valid reason why landlords and tenants should be left in an adversarial position. It makes no sense to me that government doesn't protect existing residence via subsidies. Landlords could rent or sell vacant units at market rates. Existing tenants would be subsidized enough to be able to pay such increasing market rates. Natural attrition would occur, but landlords and poorer tenants would not be at odds with each other over rent increases affording the landlord reasonable compensation for housing improvements, etc. After all, a worker deserves his or her wages.

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  51.    Corruption can no longer be dismissed as a developing world problem | Aditya Chakrabortty | Opinion | The Guardian

    Aditya Chakrabortty:

    … developing nations such as Nigeria will join campaigning groups to make the argument that modern corruption now has a white face. They will argue that the onus is on Britain and other rich countries to crack down on the tax havens in their own backyards.

    And they are right. Corruption of the sort that we normally discuss should be stamped out. It makes the lives of billions of the world's poorest people harder and more insecure.

    But it is peanuts compared to the much bigger sums that are raked in by the lawyers, accountants and other silky advisers who base themselves in the City of London and use Britain's network of crown dependencies and overseas territories in Jersey, Guernsey, the Caymans and the British Virgin Islands.

    Until the UK stops encouraging, advising and facilitating guilty men and women looking to stow their shady cash offshore, corruption will continue to flourish.

    … the havens depend on London.

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  52.    Business Partner Can Fast-Track Investment Property Purchases – AAOA

    One More Piece Of Rental Buying Advice

    While no longer required for most mortgage programs, you might want to purchase a landlord insurance policy. This covers the perils of ordinary homeowners insurance, plus extra liability coverage and rent income interruption coverage.

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


  53.    Fairness and Free Trade

    Dani Rodrik:

    If it is unfair for domestic firms to compete with foreign entities that are subsidized or propped up by their governments, is it not similarly unfair for domestic workers to compete with foreign workers who lack fundamental rights such as collective bargaining or protections against workplace abuse? Aren't firms that despoil the environment, use child labor, or provide hazardous employment conditions also a source of unfair competition?

    None of this implies that democracies should not trade with non-democracies. The point is that commercial logic is not the only consideration that should govern their economic relationships. We cannot escape — and therefore must confront — the dilemma that gains from trade sometimes come at the expense of strains on domestic social arrangements.

    Public discussion and deliberation are the only way that democracies can sort out the contending values and tradeoffs at stake. Trade disputes with China and other countries are an opportunity for airing — rather than repressing — these issues, and thus taking an important step toward democratizing the world's trade regime.

    Well, that's the slow route I would not have opted for, in fact did not advocate when I opposed opening up the US to global employment competition. However, it is now the world we face. That said, I would still take a hardline approach concerning other markets' labor standards. They need to come up to US standards ASAP!

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


  54.    5 Home Improvements that Pay Off—and 5 that Don't | RISMedia's Housecall

    When looking at these lists, it is important for some investors to keep in mind several other factors including but not limited to the following:

    1) The cost of acquisition of the property and its purchased condition: If it is purchased on the cheap and is in rough enough shape that it merits rehabbing to make it even serviceable, then in general, the ROI will be higher than listed.

    2) DIY (Do it yourself, sweat equity): Many investors who purchase with an eye toward rehabbing do so also planning on doing much or all of the work themselves. Depending upon the time for completion (and other factors such as whether the property is to be flipped or held and rented out), the investors are paying themselves the labor that would otherwise go to hired contractors/subcontractors or tradespeople.

    That's just barely scratching the surface.

    The point is that lists such as in the linked article are geared not at the fixer and flipper or rehabber but at the typical homeowner who contracts all of the work and is just curious about increases in equity thereby.

    Such lists are a great way to start thinking about what renters too value.

    Favorable economic conditions have long triggered investment in home improvements — more money, more upgrades — and progress on the housing front is set to spur the next wave of homeowner spending on both necessary and discretionary projects.

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  55.    Camden man accused of illegal real estate transactions

    Police warn that rental and housing scams have increased. If a landlord is asking for a cash down payment or is only allowing you to look at bank owned, vacant and foreclosed properties, you're likely being scammed.

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


  56.    Police Make 2 Arrests in Most Recent Kentucky Home Burglary, Fire

    Kentucky State Police say two people have been charged in connection to a home burglary and arson that occurred in Madison County.

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


  57.    ATF: 2013 Fire at Texas Fertilizer Plant Intentionally Set

    … ruled "incendiary," or intentionally set, after all viable accidental and natural fire scenarios were hypothesized, tested and eliminated ….

    I still wonder.

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


  58.    Students at University of North Carolina Evacuated from Sinking Apartments

    … more than 100 students had to move over the weekend after concerns about settling in the Arcadia apartments clubhouse.

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


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