News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Aug. 19, 2016

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) World's largest vertical farm grows without soil, sunlight or water in Newark | Environment | The Guardian

2) La. and Miss. struggle with "historic" floods – CBS News

3) Mid-America Nears $4 Billion Post Properties Deal, WSJ Says – Bloomberg

4) Aspen real estate market's sudden collapse in 2016 baffles brokers

5) Fed Officials Challenge Decades of Accepted Wisdom on Inflation – Bloomberg

6) 86% of American renters can't afford to become homeowners

7) Developer seeks funds for tiny homes village for homeless in Santa Rosa | The Press Democrat

8) Apartment Construction at a 10-Year High, Eases Pressure on Rental Prices in Booming Markets

9) This Republican mayor has an incredibly simple idea to help the homeless. And it seems to be working. – The Washington Post

10) Raging Clayton Fire Destroys 175 Homes, Rallies Community Once More | NBC Bay Area

11) Toledo approves lead ordinance for rental properties – The Blade

12) The Many Facets of Multifamily Development | Market Share

13) CANADA: Another Health Unit is Joining the Growing Body of Support from Public Health Organizations for Basic Income | BIEN

14) San Francisco apartment construction at decade high, but it's still not much – Curbed SF

15) Trillions in Murky Investments Could Rock China's Economy – The New York Times

16) How green energy hurts the poor

17) Louisiana Flood August 2016

18) Britain's vast national gamble on wind power may yet pay off

19) Cheap money fuels the boom in Germany, but fails to lift France and Italy

20) Krugman's Arrow Theory Misses Target by Light Years | MishTalk

21) Why (Almost) All the Most Successful Real Estate Investors Fund Their Deals Creatively

22) There's No Such Thing as an Economic Miracle – Bloomberg View

23) Signs of pure altruism converge in the brain and increase with age | EurekAlert! Science News

24) Equation Group: The Crown Creator of Cyber-Espionage | Kaspersky Lab

25) Miami Luxury Market | Miami Housing Market Slowdown

26) 7 Home Exterior Transformations

27) Schrader bill would gut the Department of Labor's new overtime rule | Economic Policy Institute

28) General Equilibrium Theory: Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing?

29) Exclusive: Some shell companies sidestep new UK transparency rules | Reuters

30) Why Building More Homes Won't Help Housing Affordability — Logan Mohtashami

31) The economic and human cost of America's worst natural disasters | World Economic Forum

32) Nearly 6 million still owe more on mortgages than their homes are worth

33) mainly macro: Hope, experience and the left

34) Global central banks dump US debt at record pace

35) What China's US Buying Spree Means For The Future Of Hospitality – Forbes

36) Fires, Floods, and Scorchers: Earth Destroys Yet Another Heat Record – Bloomberg

37) Americans Put Too Much Faith in Homeowners Insurance

38) US Launches 'Biggest Ever Improvement' in Flood Forecasting

39) Tennessee Town Urges Caution After 2 Fires Caused by Oily Rags

40) With Windows 10, Microsoft Blatantly Disregards User Choice and Privacy: A Deep Dive | Electronic Frontier Foundation

41) What China's Cooling Housing Market Means for Its Economy

42) Wayne County Set To Auction 14,000 Tax-Foreclosed Properties – CBS Detroit

43) Is Technology Killing Capitalism? – YouTube

44) City roof decks raising the stakes on housing

45) mainly macro: Hard truths for the IMF

46) Steve Keen interview on BBC HardTalk August 2016 – YouTube

47) What Would Clintonomics Bring? Breaking Down Hillary Clinton's Economic Policy. – Washington Wire – WSJ

48) Donald Trump | Real Estate Taxes

  1.    World's largest vertical farm grows without soil, sunlight or water in Newark | Environment | The Guardian

    I find this sort of thing fascinating.

    Like other companies in this space, it is relying on productivity gains to offset high cost of expensive technology and emerge as a successful business.

    The only issue with "organics" concerns the lack of soil? We need to improve the health of the world's soil regardless.

    My view is that the article understates the impact technology will have.

    I wonder why the article didn't discuss the nutritional value of the produce? I should think that would be hugely important if people interested in organic farming are to become highly involved on some level.

    Also, let's not forget that soil can be used in vertical farming too.

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  2.    La. and Miss. struggle with "historic" floods – CBS News

    Steele said the flooding that started Friday has damaged more than 1,000 homes in East Baton Rouge Parish, more than 1,000 homes in Livingston Parish, and hundreds more in other areas, including St. Helena and Tangipahoa parishes.

    "It never slowed down last night," Steele said Sunday morning. "For the last few hours, there has been just as much activity as at any point."

    At least three deaths have been blamed on the flooding. One person is missing.

    Rescuers are taking out hundreds of pets as they go door-to-door searching for people.

    Check this photo of a so-far-lucky owner: http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/deadly-f looding-in-louisiana/23/

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  3.    Mid-America Nears $4 Billion Post Properties Deal, WSJ Says – Bloomberg

    Apartment managers have benefited from a recovery in the housing market as rising home prices have turned many would-be buyers into renters, the Journal said. At the same time, growth in rents has begun to slow, creating an incentive for mergers that reduce costs.

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  4.    Aspen real estate market's sudden collapse in 2016 baffles brokers

    Ask a dozen market watchers why, and you'll get a dozen answers. Uncertainty around the presidential election. Fear of Trump. Fear of Clinton. Growing trade imbalances with China. Brexit. Roller-coaster oil prices. Zika. Wobbling economies in South America. The list goes on.

    How much does skiing and less snow have to do with it?

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  5.    Fed Officials Challenge Decades of Accepted Wisdom on Inflation – Bloomberg

    Evans has taken the risk-management argument, which dictates that the Fed can be slow to raise interest rates because of increasing uncertainty about global growth amid an environment of muted inflation, a step further.

    He argued in an Aug. 3 briefing with reporters that the FOMC should consider engineering an intentional overshoot of the Fed's 2 percent inflation target — which their preferred measure of inflation has been undershooting for the last four years — to make sure they can stabilize it around that level in a sustainable way.

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  6.    86% of American renters can't afford to become homeowners

    86% of American renters don't have a sufficient credit score or income to afford to buy a home in their local market, according to a new study by Zillow. The US has seen homeownership rates in a steady decline since the 2007 housing bubble collapse; we're now approaching a 48-year low. The new numbers from Zillow paint a bleak picture about the future of homeownership in the US.

    As Americans flock to rentals, the vacancy rate is approaching a 40-year low. Rents have increased 7% between 2001 and 2014 while household incomes dropped 9% over the same period. Nearly 50% of renters in the US are "cost-burdened" by their rent, meaning they spend more than 30% of their pre-tax income on housing.

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  7.    Developer seeks funds for tiny homes village for homeless in Santa Rosa | The Press Democrat

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  8.    Apartment Construction at a 10-Year High, Eases Pressure on Rental Prices in Booming Markets

    This article is full of info.

    The rental market is firing on all cylinders, with over 1,400 large-scale projects under construction in the country's biggest metros, our recent survey on the US apartment market shows. In the largest construction boom we've seen over the last decade, approx. 320,000 new apartments in 50+ unit buildings alone are expected to hit the market this year. That's a whopping 50% increase from 2015 when approx. 200,000 units came online — and the highest point in 5 years of relentless inventory growth.

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  9.    This Republican mayor has an incredibly simple idea to help the homeless. And it seems to be working. – The Washington Post

    A Republican mayor takes a decidedly progressive approach to homelessness and joblessness: public work without red tape but true assistance in getting things straightened out.

    Republican Mayor Richard Berry was driving around Albuquerque last year when he saw a man on a street corner holding a sign that read: "Want a Job. Anything Helps."

    Throughout his administration, as part of a push to connect the homeless population to services, Berry had taken to driving through the city to talk to panhandlers about their lives. His city's poorest residents told him they didn't want to be on the streets begging for money, but they didn't know where else to go.

    Seeing that sign gave Berry an idea. Instead of asking them, many of whom feel dispirited, to go out looking for work, the city could bring the work to them.

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  10.    Raging Clayton Fire Destroys 175 Homes, Rallies Community Once More | NBC Bay Area

    A wind-whipped wildfire decimated a hardscrabble California town, destroying more than 175 homes, businesses and other structures, including a Habitat for Humanity office, in an area that was spared last year by another major blaze, officials said Monday.

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  11.    Toledo approves lead ordinance for rental properties – The Blade

    It's a cost of doing business that all landlords will apparently face concerning the same types of properties.

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  12.    The Many Facets of Multifamily Development | Market Share

    …Mark-Taylor Companies Executive Vice President Chris Brozina….

    Shrewd investors will spend considerable effort identifying the appropriate product type to match the demographic fundamentals of a given location.

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  13.    CANADA: Another Health Unit is Joining the Growing Body of Support from Public Health Organizations for Basic Income | BIEN

    … every Canadian should be able to meet their fundamental needs for adequate housing and nutritious food, two key factors that affect the health of Canadians.

    That's not enough. I oppose "basic" income. People need more than what will barely keep them above abject poverty. There's zero rational reason to limit an income to just "basic."

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  14.    San Francisco apartment construction at decade high, but it's still not much – Curbed SF

    Taking a look at the other 19 largest cities surveyed, Miami is building the most per capita, finishing one new apartment per 31 residents (based on 2013 census estimates). Seattle is the busiest builder on the West Coast, with one new unit per 48 residents. And San Jose is California's biggest per capita builder at 170.

    And San Francisco? Our 4,100 new apartments is just one per 204 persons. Only three cities managed to do less: San Diego (225), Chicago (324), and New York City (396).

    Over building? Hardly.

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  15.    Trillions in Murky Investments Could Rock China's Economy – The New York Times

    The US had centuries of capitalism under its belt when the S&L crisis hit and then the Great-Recession meltdown. China was under zero capitalism so long that I would be amazed were they to avoid an even worse crisis. The numbers in this article are simply staggering. It sounds to me that there's a ton of Ponzi scheming going on.

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  16.    How green energy hurts the poor

    The stats used in this and the interpretations are refuted by the wind and solar industries. As far as I'm concerned, it's just pro-carbon-fuel-industry false propaganda. I don't know why the Detroit News allowed it to be published without fact checking it.

    Batteries is where the action is right now. It's coming on fast, very fast.

    As for rolling back AGW not being worth it (not that money is an issue at all), I don't even want to sink to that level of debate.

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  17.    Louisiana Flood August 2016

    Extensive precipitation-induced flooding in southern Louisiana, from west of Baton Rouge to Mississippi, has resulted in six deaths, tens of thousands of rescues, and significant property damage. Reportedly thousands of homes, as well as farmland, highways, and commercial and industrial property, have suffered flood damage. Water continues to rise in some locales, and additional rain could initiate flash floods. States of emergency have been declared for Louisiana and impacted counties in Mississippi, and the president has designated parts of Louisiana as federal disaster areas.

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  18.    Britain's vast national gamble on wind power may yet pay off

    Does this sound bad for the poor? I didn't think so.

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  19.    Cheap money fuels the boom in Germany, but fails to lift France and Italy

    … the hard-pressed economies of France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece — another 50 percent of the euro area output — need that oxygen to survive. Easy money is all they got. Their budget deficits of 2-5 percent of GDP, and their rising public debt of 120-185 percent of GDP, leave no room for fiscal policy to support demand, output and employment.

    The EU authorities, whoever they are, have relented from imposing penalties on Spain and Portugal — and have looked the other way in the case of France — for transgressing the euro area budget deficit commitments. But they continue to insist on labor market deregulations and on other socially and politically sensitive measures that act as short-term growth and employment killers.

    If that's what they (Germany?) want, then the logic of economic management requires that these restrictive fiscal and structural measures should be offset by loose monetary policies.

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  20.    Krugman's Arrow Theory Misses Target by Light Years | MishTalk

    The sales-tax increase was stupid. The fiscal spending was too small. However, Japan needs immigrants because of Japan's aging population.

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  21.    Why (Almost) All the Most Successful Real Estate Investors Fund Their Deals Creatively

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  22.    There's No Such Thing as an Economic Miracle – Bloomberg View

    This article wrongly assumes no change from the current mixed-economy system. There's no way we can continue on indefinitely. That's because of technology and automation. Advances will accelerate. Jobs will become a thing of the past. We will have no choice but to undergo the most important economic revolution in history from what we have to pure democracy where funding is not an issue, only choices of what we want.

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  23.    Signs of pure altruism converge in the brain and increase with age | EurekAlert! Science News

    General benevolence is more strongly expressed in the second half of the life span, the researchers found. People older than 45 receive more neural reward from seeing others better off, they give more money away and they score higher on pro-social personality traits than those under 45.

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  24.    Equation Group: The Crown Creator of Cyber-Espionage | Kaspersky Lab

    … for most hard drives there are functions to write into the hardware firmware area, but there are no functions to read it back. It means that we are practically blind, and cannot detect hard drives that have been infected by this malware" — warns Costin Raiu, Director of the Global Research and Analysis Team at Kaspersky Lab.

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  25.    Miami Luxury Market | Miami Housing Market Slowdown

    The uncertainty now is how a new president will affect issues like taxation and succession concerning real estate for foreign nationals.

    As outlined by the most recent Knight Frank Wealth Report, which surveyed private bankers financial advisors, those issues topped the list of concerns for ultra-high-net-worth individuals at the beginning of this year.

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


  26.    7 Home Exterior Transformations

    Okay, now what were they worth before, what are they worth now, how much did the renovations cost, and how much money was used up besides during the construction period? In other words, did the renovations pay for themselves and if so, by how much? Would the money have been better spent or invested elsewhere, or was it just an expenditure for love?

    #2 made me look back and forth at the before and after the most. How about you?

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  27.    Schrader bill would gut the Department of Labor's new overtime rule | Economic Policy Institute

    A rule such as this one by the DOL results in the costs being handled in two ways. They are passed on to purchasers or shared by higher management and by ownership. In the end, greater leveling is better for the economy. There's no competitive advantage to blocking or weakening such a rule. There's only weakening the overall economy for the sakes of senior management and ownership (who also suffer the negative impacts of a weaker economy). In other words, it's shooting oneself in the foot while thinking one is ultimately better off. It's quite fleeting, and many people simply think about dying a little richer relatively speaking (as the economy tanks or stalls) anyway rather than about longevity and posterity.

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  28.    General Equilibrium Theory: Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing?

    This is a major piece that should impact the entire field of economics. It's an overview and summation of much that is currently completely wrong with the field.

    Even if you don't understand the jargon (I don't profess to having a handle on all of it, as one would need to read and research all of the cited material as well), it's still well worth the read. You should be able to gather the underlying theme and see much merit in the critique of the theory in question.

    The following is a snippet that does not necessarily reflect nearly the most important statements in the piece but, nevertheless, should pique the interest of business people and investors.

    Raphaële Chappe ( https://www.ineteconomics.org/community/ experts/rchappe read that!) is to be congratulated for having come up with the article.

    Alternative characterizations of what markets are and what market participants seek to do may provide enlightenment. Some sociologists regard markets as social arenas ( "fields") with both production and exchange structured by legal, social and institutional arrangements. Stable markets are characterized by the sustained presence of producers as "self-reproducing role structures" (White, 1981). In this line of analysis firms are primarily driven by survival (or reproduction) rather than profit maximization. Ensuring firm survival in a context of uncertainty may require actions on multiple fronts when firms face difficulties in such things as finding suppliers (who may be able to 'hold up' by raising prices and controlling supply of inputs), maintaining and gaining customers (through market research and advertising, brand management, and product or distributional innovation), and extracting cooperation from managers and workers within the firm. Arguably some steps taken by firm owners and managers may make more sense when understood in term of their goal of managing these various sources of uncertainty (and maintaining stable markets) rather than in term of profit maximization alone (Fligstein, 2001).

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  29.    Exclusive: Some shell companies sidestep new UK transparency rules | Reuters

    Speaks for itself.

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  30.    Why Building More Homes Won't Help Housing Affordability — Logan Mohtashami

    It might be the case that if builders were to build starter-homes that could compete in price with existing homes, than overall home prices inflation can cool down. But this is a fantasy scenario that has virtually no chance of happening. Builders have universally determined that the starter-home market is not where the profits are.

    That's true if government doesn't move in to sufficiently subsidize developers and buyers.

    The "market" will not handle the situation if we want owners over renters. Even if we're fine with renters, they too need subsidizing because the overall economy is not a self-correcting market.

    There is no "equilibrium." There is no "price discovery" of a completely cloaked and moving target.

    Housing should be nothing but a democratic decision. Do we want everyone housed decently? If the answer is yes, as it should be, then we order it done.

    Will the "capitalists" (so-called pure capitalists) scream that they won't be able to make huge profits off the poor and middle classes in that case? Yes, but so what? There will still be plenty of money to go around, in fact, more. It will just be more equally distributed benefiting the whole.

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  31.    The economic and human cost of America's worst natural disasters | World Economic Forum

    Excellent, short overview.

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  32.    Nearly 6 million still owe more on mortgages than their homes are worth

    Diana Olick:

    Negative equity, ironically, is one of the driving factors of higher home prices. Homeowners in this position are unlikely to sell at a loss, so they stay, which in turn lowers the number of homes available for sale. A dearth of listings over the last year is driving a faster-than-expected rise in home prices. Demand is high, and builders are still operating well below historical volumes.

    "Low levels of inventory across many markets will continue to put upward pressure on house prices for the foreseeable future," said Sean Becketti, chief economist at Freddie Mac, which this month revised down its forecast for housing starts.

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


  33.    mainly macro: Hope, experience and the left

    Sometimes Simon makes a great deal of sense. This isn't one of them.

    Look, Simon, I mostly like you, but you're dreaming while thinking you're wide awake.

    The one and only way anyone who's now saying that Jeremy Corbyn is a weak leader will start calling him a strong leader is if Jeremy changes his ideological views to theirs (having zero to do with his leadership skills).

    What they are saying is that he's a bad leader because he doesn't want to lead them where they want to remain or go. That's what brats say about their parents no matter how good their parents' leadership skills are.

    What you're doing, Simon, is aiding and abetting their intransigence. It's either that or your one of them. If you're one of them, you want to keep technocracy over democracy rather than having a transparent democracy with a fully informed electorate.

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  34.    Global central banks dump U.S. debt at record pace

    It's the largest selloff of U.S. debt since at least 1978 ….

    Many countries have been selling their holdings of U.S. Treasuries so they can get cash to help prop up their currencies if they're losing value.

    … private demand for the bonds has sky rocketed.

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  35.    What China's U.S. Buying Spree Means For The Future Of Hospitality – Forbes

    It's pretty obvious from this article that Ed Fuller doesn't see a China crashing and/or a China clamping down on money flowing illegally out of China. I don't see it as Ed does. I see China running into trouble and clamping down more.

    Will it stop all Chinese investing in the US? No. It will take the rose-colored glasses off though.

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  36.    Fires, Floods, and Scorchers: Earth Destroys Yet Another Heat Record – Bloomberg

    So far, 15 of the hottest 16 years ever measured have come in the 21st century.

    Some hoax!

    Well, when La Nina kicks in, the AGW deniers will point to it as proof there's no AGW. As this article correctly points out, the long-term trajectory, however, is up.

    We need to accelerate the use of solar and wind. The sooner we dump all carbon-based fuels the better.

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  37.    Americans Put Too Much Faith in Homeowners Insurance

    … people outside high-risk flood areas file more than one-fifth of all National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood insurance claims.

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  38.    U.S. Launches 'Biggest Ever Improvement' in Flood Forecasting

    I'm impressed. I hope the model lives up to the article's description. Regardless, improvement is improvement. We'll take all we can get.

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


  39.    Tennessee Town Urges Caution After 2 Fires Caused by Oily Rags

    Washing and drying oil-soaked rags will not prevent spontaneous combustion.

    Well, there are commercial services that do wash oily cloths used in industrial and mechanical shops, etc. They do require proper storage pending receipt by the cleaning service.

    Unless you have access to such arrangements and follow the proper guidelines, don't keep them indoors or remotely near flammable structures or materials.

    The "covered metal container" suggestion is right on.

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  40.    With Windows 10, Microsoft Blatantly Disregards User Choice and Privacy: A Deep Dive | Electronic Frontier Foundation

    This is why I blocked Windows 10 and did it as early as possible.

    If Microsoft doesn't change in the manner suggested in this article, it's very likely that I will not ever buy another Microsoft OS.

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


  41.    What China's Cooling Housing Market Means for Its Economy

    UK-based Fathom Consulting believes repeated interventions by the government have prevented China's property markets from clearing massive inventories, and said policymakers are continuing to inflate the housing bubble.

    "With development focused primarily on those regions already suffering from excess capacity, China is playing a dangerous game," the consulting firm said in a report last week.

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


  42.    Wayne County Set To Auction 14,000 Tax-Foreclosed Properties – CBS Detroit

    This is a big auction.

    I wonder how well the bidders will have done the math.

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  43.    Is Technology Killing Capitalism? – YouTube

    Is Technology Killing Capitalism? I've been sayign that it has been and will finalize it. It's why I've been advocating for the Universal Income and for democracy to decide what we want.

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  44.    City roof decks raising the stakes on housing

    I really like these! However, I like roof solar and roof urban-farms too.

    I'd like to see all three together, thank you.

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


  45.    mainly macro: Hard truths for the IMF

    You see, Simon does get it right sometimes.

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  46.    Steve Keen interview on BBC HardTalk August 2016 – YouTube

    This develops into a rather intense interview. In my estimation, it is the best one I've seen with Steve Keen on some fronts.

    It can be agonizing to listen to an interviewer who isn't really up on where the orthodox economists are: that they've accepted a great deal of what Steve has been saying for a long time.

    Also, the interviewer, Steven Sackur, doesn't understand some of Steve's positions/statements: reads too much into some and doesn't put enough weight on others.

    The part I like the most is where Steve says he won't be an economic Chamberlain and why.

    As most of my readers know, I really like Yanis Varoufakis, as does Steve Keen; but Steve is absolutely right that some institutions are not salvageable.

    I think Steve's observations fit very nicely with what Bernie Sanders thinks Bernie has been doing vis-a-vis the Democratic Party.

    Bernie and Yanis are much alike in that.

    I believe Steve is more sensible.

    As for the "capitalism" question, I'm a democrat. Democracy first, economic system second. In other words, I think that the reason socialism hasn't done as well as the mixed economy is because democracy has been lacking and not because "capitalism" is inherently better at creation and innovation, etc.

    Frankly, I think capitalism is very bad at creating and innovating in ways that avoid the so-called externalities: the negatives, such as pollution for one.

    Under a highly democratic social economy, I don't think such pollution would get out the door even while the cooperative economy would out produce the capitalist one every time.

    Steven Sackur and I discuss why (mainstream) economists shouldn't be trusted, Brexit, the Euro, and overall the need to reform economics a decade after the Global Financial Crisis.

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


  47.    What Would Clintonomics Bring? Breaking Down Hillary Clinton's Economic Policy. – Washington Wire – WSJ

    I have no comments I wish to make on this right now.

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


  48.    Donald Trump | Real Estate Taxes

    What do you think?

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