News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Sept. 18, 2016

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) [Why?] United States Gold Reserves | 2000-2016 | Data | Chart | Calendar

2) A Public Bank to Invest Directly in New Jersey — and for New Jersey, Phil Murphy

3) Fed Urges US Ban on Wall Street Buying Stakes in Companies – Bloomberg

4) Ask a Real Estate Pro: Seller needs to disclose problems with house – Sun Sentinel

5) Zombie properties returning to life

6) Seattle home prices slow their climb, but shortage of inspectors raises anxiety | The Seattle Times

7) 7 Ways to Add Bedrooms, Bathrooms & Value-Add Amenities to Your House

8) Wiping out housing's 'zombies': Banks sell off foreclosed remnants of crash

9) US recession jitters stoke fears of impotent Fed and fiscal paralysis

10) Drivers of inequality: Trade versus tax rates | VOX, CEPR's Policy Portal

11) Louisiana Commissioner Urges Flood Insurance Proof of Loss Extension

12) 22 Displaced by North Carolina Apartment Complex Fire Allegedly Started by Resident

13) Michigan to Conduct Surprise Inspections of Demolition Sites

14) Laguna Beach moves to keep short-term rentals out of residential neighborhoods – The Orange County Register

15) mainly macro: Voters making big mistakes

16) Judge Orders AG to Hand Over Emails in Washington Landslide Liability Case

17) 'Game Changing' Climate Disclosure Guidelines Coming Soon

18) Getting Inclusionary Zoning Right – Urban Land Magazine

19) Could the Fed wipe out all of America's student debt?

20) Europe's left after Brexit: DiEM25's perspective | openDemocracy

21) Community Resilience Planning Guide | NIST

22) Are 97% of Social Security Recipients Doing It Wrong?

23) Yanis Varoufakis's Fantasy Politics: The European Union is the enemy of left internationalism, not its friend

24) The Stimulus Our Economy Needs | Foreign Policy

25) Family, community gather for candlelight vigil for fire victims – WMC Action News 5 – Memphis, Tennessee

26) City councilors to review taxpayer money spent on deteriorating properties | Oklahoma City – OKC – KOCO com

27) Real estate: Property price crash 'six weeks' away, US report warns

28) Where have the jobs gone? Australians grapple with less work, low pay | Reuters

29) US teens often forced to trade sex work for food, study finds | US news | The Guardian

30) GPS Placed California Arson Suspect at Scene of Wildfire That Destroyed 189 Homes

31) 4 Tornadoes Sweep Through Central Illinois, Damage Reported

32) China's failed experiment with democracy – YouTube

33) Illusory Redundancy Strikes Again — Rethink Risk—The Blog

34) Fewer Unions, Lower Pay for Everybody – The Atlantic

35) The Euro: Why Joseph Stiglitz Is Wrong

36) An app that helps renters set their price raises fears of apartment bidding wars – Curbed

37) Which US Commercial Real Estate Sectors Might Be Nearing Oversupply? – Urban Land Magazine

38) Democratising Europe — a transnational project? | openDemocracy

39) OSHA Issues New Workplace Safety Rules

40) Three brothers with disabilities found dead after house fire, police investigating arson | NBC4i com

41) Own-to-Rent: The Foreclosure Crisis and Single-Family Home Rentals – Zillow Research

42) Reasons For Further Growth Of US Real Estate Prices – iShares US Real Estate ETF (NYSEARCA:IYR) | Seeking Alpha

43) Socialize the Banks: Breaking up the banks won't do. They should be publicly owned and democratically controlled, by Nuno Teles

44) Trump "Penny Plan" Would Mean Large Cut in Non-Defense Spending | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

45) PineIsland: An Iceberg as Large as New York City – YouTube

46) Modifying the Fed's policy framework: Does a higher inflation target beat negative interest rates? | Brookings Institution

47) Landlords listen up: Find the best rental returns here

48) Facts about US Latinos for Hispanic Heritage Month | Pew Research Center

49) 13 Proactive Ways to Increase Rent & Add Value to Your Rental Property

50) Corpus Christi Named the Best City to be a Kid – Zillow Porchlight

51) The Cost of Off-Campus Rent at Top Colleges – Zillow Porchlight

52) Michael Pettis Calls Surplus Trade Statements by German Finance Minister "Utter Lunacy" | MishTalk

53) Ford shifting all US small-car production to Mexico

54) Lessons from Finland: helping homeless people starts with giving them homes | Housing Network | The Guardian

55) A look at the new Wall Street scheme to make money with your home – MarketWatch

56) China's Housing Gets Scarily Expensive – Bloomberg View

57) Divided European leaders struggle with post-Brexit vision | Reuters

58) Understanding Society: Guest post by Dave Elder-Vass

59) The state of macroeconomics is not good – The Washington Post

60) Safety Net Cut Poverty Nearly in Half Last Year | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

61) America's Inequality Problem: Real Income Gains Are Brief and Hard to Find – The New York Times

62) Man, girlfriend face arson, insurance fraud charges

63) Owners of Georgia Apartments Ordered to Pay $10M in Shooting Death of Resident

64) Poll: Americans Willing to Pay Slightly More to Combat Global Warming

65) Mistrial Declared After Deadlock Over Whether Notorious Convicted Arsonist Is Sane : The Two-Way : NPR

66) Thirst for Yield Drives Record Investor Inflows to Real Estate Funds – MoneyBeat – WSJ

67) Put Globalization to Work for Democracies – The New York Times

  1.    [Why?] United States Gold Reserves | 2000-2016 | Data | Chart | Calendar

    Gold Reserves in the United States remained unchanged at 8133.46 Tonnes in the second quarter of 2016 from 8133.46 Tonnes in the first quarter of 2016.

    I must say that except for its practical utility (not as supposed money), I see absolutely zero reason that my government does this.

    We have a strategic oil-reserve. I get that. We do not have "Gold Reserves" for the same kind of reason.

    We have gold because gold used to be the basis of our money, as in the gold standard, which we are no longer on and haven't been for a very long time.

    Why are we feeding into nonsense? We already know all about inflation and how to control it.

    These gold reserves send the wrong message nationally and globally.

    Sell it all but a strategic reserve of the type we have for oil. That's what I'd do, and I'd do it before the rush out of gold, which will happen because people are waking up to real economics, not that I'd leave anyone destitute who is/would be foolish enough to hold onto it.

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  2.    A Public Bank to Invest Directly in New Jersey — and for New Jersey, Phil Murphy

    Oh my, Wall Street will NOT like this at all.

    New Jersey currently deposits billions of dollars in state revenues in Wall Street and foreign banks — which overwhelmingly do not invest in New Jersey's communities. Phil will take that money out of Wall Street and put it to work for New Jersey — creating jobs and growing the economy — through an innovative new public bank to make critical investments in our state and its people. By using state deposits to finance local investments, the Public Bank will support billions of dollars of critical investments in infrastructure, small businesses, and student loans — saving our residents money and returning all profits to the taxpayers.

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  3.    Fed Urges U.S. Ban on Wall Street Buying Stakes in Companies – Bloomberg

    The Fed's job is to "save" banking. The bankers' job is to be dragged kicking and screaming all the way. The People's job is to see through the ruse.

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  4.    Ask a Real Estate Pro: Seller needs to disclose problems with house – Sun Sentinel

    Serious problems will have to be disclosed to future buyers now that the seller knows about them, and it might make sense just to give you a reasonable credit and get the deal closed.

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  5.    Zombie properties returning to life

    "We saw a decrease in these zombie properties down 9 percent from a year ago," Blomquist said.

    And the number of vacant properties owned by banks went up 67 percent. Susan Wachter, professor of real estate finance at the Wharton School, said the decrease in vacant properties is a signal.

    "This is the last innings for the recovery," she said.

    So why has it taken banks so long? Wachter said as vacancies go down, housing prices go up. And the more prices increase, the more banks can recoup on those foreclosure sales.

    It's what the Fed has been waiting to see happen too. It's why the Fed bought up bad debt and acted as a "bad bank" itself. It bought the banks time (all the time they needed) to re-inflate property values enough rather than marking them to market all those years ago right after the crash. The Fed propped up the entire banking industry rather than the US government nationalizing the whole thing, as should have happened to spare the American people the Great Recession and endless "recovery."

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  6.    Seattle home prices slow their climb, but shortage of inspectors raises anxiety | The Seattle Times

    "Houses can be in filthy condition — rot infested with mold — and the buyer's response, is, 'Yeah, but can I buy it?'??" said Richard Hagar, owner of American Home Appraisals, and also an agent. "So there are people who will not have inspections. Or (after buying), they will discover things — cracked foundations and things like that."

    "Gosh. The demand is incredible," Joseph Hasson of Hasson Appraisal Services. "I turn down over 50 percent of the work that comes to me."

    Hagar said he gets about four requests per day for an appraisal that starts at $700, up from about one per day several years ago. He does have a $200 rush fee.

    "And I'll try to put you ahead of all the other rush fees," he said.

    Appraisers, for instance, now must have a four-year college degree — a new requirement as of last year — along with 200 classroom hours to become certified. Inspectors need 160 hours of training and to pass an exam.

    "People are just not getting into the business," Hasson said.

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  7.    7 Ways to Add Bedrooms, Bathrooms & Value-Add Amenities to Your House

    I'll tell you, you could get the jackhammer out for some of the over-paving in that image too.

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  8.    Wiping out housing's 'zombies': Banks sell off foreclosed remnants of crash

    The flip side to the upswing in zombies:

    The vast majority of these zombie foreclosures are in the least desirable markets for investors. New York, Philadelphia and Chicago have the highest number of vacant foreclosures, but they are in some of the most troubled areas economically. The homes are also in terrible disrepair.

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  9.    US recession jitters stoke fears of impotent Fed and fiscal paralysis

    The moral of the story: Don't be a libertarian-capitalist/liquidationist. Be a Post-Keynesian and beyond. I am.

    The Fed acknowledges that fiscal policy will have to come to the rescue when push comes to shove. Keynesian tax cuts and spending will be the last line of defence. Yet there is no political consensus whatsoever for the sort of New Deal blitz that may be required.

    "We have to contemplate the rather alarming possibility that Congress will fail to act. There is so much animosity, and that is what is scary," said David Wessel, director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution.

    An new orthodoxy is emerging in elite global circles that the only way to escape of the liquidity trap and soak up excess savings is concerted fiscal stimulus on a world scale. The International Monetary Fund has become the fiscal cheerleader, yet even the IMF cannot seem to marshal its own staff.

    Brad Setser from the Council on Foreign Relations says the Fund is still pushing the old contractionary view in aggregate, if you tot up its 'Article IV' advice to each country. Follies die hard.

    The winners – or survivors – will be those most willing to seize on the cheapest borrowing costs in history to fight back, preferably combining fiscal and monetary in a radical fashion. Call it helicopter money if you want, or 'overt monetary financing' of deficits. The accounting terminology is irrelevant.

    Since no country can risk watching its precious national stimulus leak away to free riders in the austerity camp – at least in a crisis – this may imply some degree of calibrated protectionism. The twin liberal pieties of progressive public policy and global free trade may ultimately come into conflict. That is tomorrow's battle.

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  10.    Drivers of inequality: Trade versus tax rates | VOX, CEPR's Policy Portal

    … trade shocks, which certainly had a large impact on the labour market in the early 2000s, are not responsible for all of society's ills. The dramatic rise in inequality experienced in the US since 1980 can be traced to the Reagan tax cuts, not to trade.

    Let's not get confused. A number of factors contributed to the growth in wealth and income inequality in the US: the war against unions (Reagan), tax cuts for the superrich, and offshoring of middle-class jobs to places that paid slave wages (and had weak or non-existent regulations) while the capitalists increased their own compensation packages to match. They kept the profits for themselves. Add to that, tax havens, etc., and you have the fuller picture.

    Some would argue that there's no causality proven, but they don't have any credible competing hypotheses to test. Besides, economics is not pure science. It's a social science at best. Personally, I view it mainly as politics, philosophy, and theology.

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  11.    Louisiana Commissioner Urges Flood Insurance Proof of Loss Extension

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  12.    22 Displaced by North Carolina Apartment Complex Fire Allegedly Started by Resident

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  13.    Michigan to Conduct Surprise Inspections of Demolition Sites

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  14.    Laguna Beach moves to keep short-term rentals out of residential neighborhoods – The Orange County Register

    Interesting report:

    "Our long-term rentals would be reduced and second homes will become year-round mini hotels with the police department's 9-1-1 line serving as the front desk," he said.

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  15.    mainly macro: Voters making big mistakes

    Simon Wren-Lewis:

    The idea is that this leadership contest is a battle for democracy, and the most important goal is to create a party whose leadership and MPs reflect members views. The idea that all MPs should all agree with the majority of members, which effectively stops Labour being a broad church.

    Simon is wrong there in many ways. The most important rests in the notion that the People are too stupid or busy or somethings (plural) else to be mass-radicalized.

    Simon is a person preaching no, no, no, don't imagine you can democratize and do a better job of running things than the "experts" have done or will do or could do if only…. If only what, Simon?

    The object is not to create a "broad church" but rather to get more people into the narrow one. If we're going to use metaphors, let's go all the way in our understanding: "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Mat 7:14)

    Why is that? Why do few find it? They lack the vision, understanding, etc., but why? I've been saying for some time now that we lack sufficient transparency.

    Let's continue with the theological metaphor. "For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them." (Mat 13:15)

    So, if we want a "church" at all in Simon's sense, why aim so low? It doesn't really ever "save" anyone. It's just remaining stuck at best, spinning.

    When have the People really tried and failed? Never. The People have never really tried what Simon is preaching against, what Simon is saying they ought not to do. To really try, you try and fail short term but keep trying. What the People have historically done is try and fail short term and give up or give in to the triangulators. We won't ever get anywhere worth going by doing that.

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  16.    Judge Orders AG to Hand Over Emails in Washington Landslide Liability Case

    It's astounding how many people in high places need Remedial Ethics. I can understand mistakes here and there, but stuff on this level is a really big deal.

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  17.    'Game Changing' Climate Disclosure Guidelines Coming Soon

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  18.    Getting Inclusionary Zoning Right – Urban Land Magazine

    I hear all of this, but what I'm not hearing is subsidizing the developers so they will make a profit even when constructing a high percentage of affordable housing.

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  19.    Could the Fed wipe out all of America's student debt?

    Let's not beat up Jill Stein too quickly here, okay. The Fed could execute contracts with every student-loan borrower to give those borrowers the funds to pay off the debts 100% in exchange for owing the Fed the money (at a much lower interest rate and/or simply to be forgiven by the Fed).

    Also, the Fed could easily make the case for doing so on economic and financial grounds, as freeing up all those borrowers would be an important contributor to increased demand-spending (or savings for housing, etc.).

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  20.    Europe's left after Brexit: DiEM25's perspective | openDemocracy

    Where we disagree with Lexit proponents is in their assumption that this clash can take only one form: a campaign to leave the EU. We reject this assumption wholeheartedly and counter-propose a clash with the European establishment based on a campaign of wilfully disobeying the unenforceable EU 'rules' at the municipal, regional and national levels while making no move whatsoever to leave the EU.

    Undoubtedly, the EU institutions will threaten us (i.e. rebel governments and finance ministers adopting DiEM25's agenda) with expulsion, with bank runs, bank 'holidays' etc., just as they threatened the Greek government (and me personally) with Grexit in 2015. At that point it is crucial not to succumb to the fear of 'exit' but to look them in the eye and say:

    "Bring it on! The only thing that we are truly scared of is your sole offering: the perpetuation of the debt-deflationary spiral that drives masses of Europeans into hopelessness and places them under the spell of bigotry."

    If we do not blink, then either they will blink (in which case the EU will be transformed) or the EU will be torn asunder by its own Establishment. If the Establishment (the Commission, the European Central Bank, Berlin and Paris) dismembers the EU to punish progressive governments that refused to abide by their inane policies, this will galvanise progressive politics across Europe in a manner that Lexit could never do.

    What Yanis is doing is recreating on a European level what he did in Greece. In Greece, he wasn't in charge. Therefore, his brinkmanship wasn't tested. Tsipras never had any intention of calling the EU's bluff, even though Yanis had readied Greece economically. Yanis would have exercised his plan rather than cave in. He believes the EU would have had no choice but to deal differently and more fairly with Greece to avoid contagion with a blue print: Yanis' Plan X, which would have worked.

    This was not perfectly clear to me before this.

    The difference between Yanis' position and Steve Keen's is that Steve doesn't see any possibility of success within the EU. Yanis includes that position in his conclusion.

    I was for Yanis in Greece. To me, it was a huge mistake not to exercise Yanis' Plan X. Is it worth a try in the EU? Sure. I don't think Steve Keen would say otherwise, but I'd have to hear that from him to be sure. I think Steve just knows in his bones that some sort of Plan X will inevitably be rolled out because the reactionaries are just too stubbornly self-centered. Yanis obviously wouldn't be shocked at having to roll out an EU Plan X. He just wants to give the anti-democratic Austerians as much chance to switch to sanity as possible.

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  21.    Community Resilience Planning Guide | NIST

    Is your community into this?

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  22.    Are 97% of Social Security Recipients Doing It Wrong?

    You're playing the 66/70 card. If you and your spouse are close in age, born before 1954, and equipped with similar earnings histories, then a smart move is for one of you to start collecting a retirement benefit at age 66 and the other at 70. It doesn't matter whether you're still working or whether your spouse is still working.

    Call the early bird E, the age 70 claimer L. E files for a retirement benefit at 66, enabling L to pocket 50% of that as a "spousal only" benefit for a few years. L's retirement benefit continues to grow to its age-70 peak. When one of them dies (it doesn't matter which one), the survivor collects the higher L value.

    If you think you qualify, study up. The 66/70 Social Security Strategy For Married Couples has details. And if you can make use of this government-sponsored financial engineering, count yourself Smart.

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  23.    Yanis Varoufakis's Fantasy Politics: The European Union is the enemy of left internationalism, not its friend

    The author of this article, Lee Jones, seems to despise Yanis Varoufakis. What seems even clearer to me is that Lee doesn't understand Yanis' approach/plan.

    Varoufakis's preferred option is "pan-European movement of civil and governmental disobedience." He hopes that progressive governments can be elected and then refuse to implement "the EU's unenforceable rules at the municipal, regional, and national levels while making no move whatsoever to leave." The European Union will try to fine, threaten, and bully recalcitrant member states, but if the governments resist, the European Union will either be forced to change, or to "dismember" itself.

    How exactly this is supposed to work is not specified.

    Lee, it doesn't need to be.

    My feeling is that it's a good plan. If it were to work, the EU would be reformed on an emergency basis, very rapidly and dramatically. Good! If the EU were to refuse and fall, at least all of the internationalist-democratic ideas, ideals, and plans would be right there ready. Good also! It would be worse but still better than not. The reason is that the broken-up Europe would fail. The states that now make up the EU would fail relative to other regions of the world moving toward greater integration. Those places will ultimately fail also if they don't move toward greater and greater democracy.

    Either way, EU reform or EU disintegration with a "Democracy in Europe" movement fully functioning, the outcome would be extremely clarifying.

    Look, Bernie Sanders in the US didn't leave himself an out but said he'd remain in the Democratic Party. Yanis is not doing the same on an EU level and didn't do the same regarding Greece. Give him some credit!

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  24.    The Stimulus Our Economy Needs | Foreign Policy

    Why not pay people to work instead? The idea would be to create jobs that are sufficiently low-paying that they don't compete significantly with private sector alternatives ….

    Rather than relying on a spotty, limited system of jobless benefits that can leave the unemployed in or close to poverty, wouldn't it be better to directly create government jobs in areas where the private sector appears to be falling short? Employer-of-last-resort-type policies, as proposed by the economist Hyman Minsky, where the government generates employment in socially useful sectors that are underserved by the private sector alone — including infrastructure, education, health care, child and elderly care, and the arts — could be optimal.

    A more conservative, potentially less bureaucratic, way to implement an aggressive employment insurance policy is through a negative income tax like the one proposed by Friedman himself. This would involve a significant expansion of the earned income tax credit that would guarantee a basic stream of income for those earning under a certain threshold.

    Whatever the preferred approach, the benefits of an employment insurance policy are fairly clear. "[H]elicopter money of the variety proposed by Milton Friedman some three decades ago does not involve central bank asset purchases. Rather, it involves permanent central bank financing of a government cash grant to the general public," explains Desmond Lachman, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

    This would overcome a major weakness of monetary policy, he says: "[B]y directly stimulating aggregate demand rather than by working indirectly through asset price inflation and through encouraging risk-taking … it would spare us from yet another destructive round of asset price booms to be followed by asset price busts."

    Opponents of a more active economic policy might reasonably argue that given the low level of public trust in both Congress an d the Fed, it might be wishful thinking to get them working in concert. Images of corrupt, wasteful government spending and pet projects are sure to be raised.

    However, an alternative view is that trust in such institutions is low exactly because they are not doing something like this — not serving constituents in any palpable way or protecting them from the vagaries of an increasingly volatile and uncertain economy. Maybe doing the right thing for once could help turn that perception around. Or, you know, we could just fund this.

    Okay, that's nice compared to what we are doing now, which is terrible. However, why "a significant expansion of the earned income tax credit that would guarantee a basic stream of income for those earning under a certain threshold" rather than a sizable universal-income regardless of threshold? I'm for the latter.

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  25.    Family, community gather for candlelight vigil for fire victims – WMC Action News 5 – Memphis, Tennessee

    Memphis Fire Department said three adults and six children died in an early morning house fire caused by a malfunction in the power cord of their air conditioner.

    Investigators said the family was unable to get out of the home. The house had a security door and bars on the windows; the family was unable to open the security devices in time to escape.

    "…unable to open the security devices…." So, they did have interior releases? If so, I wonder why they wouldn't open. I wonder if they left interior doors open. Makes you wish the house had had an automatic fire-sprinkler system. I read about so many families that apparently couldn't get out in time.

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  26.    City councilors to review taxpayer money spent on deteriorating properties | Oklahoma City – OKC – KOCO.com

    Oklahoma City taxpayers are footing the bill for irresponsible property owners that let their properties deteriorate to the point of having to be demolished.

    On Tuesday, councilors will get a review on how much a three-year program has cost the city so far.

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  27.    Real estate: Property price crash 'six weeks' away, US report warns

    I have no comment on this right now.

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  28.    Where have the jobs gone? Australians grapple with less work, low pay | Reuters

    "In terms of the growth in economy, we'll be alright but the question is what happens in two years time – where are the jobs going to come from for Australia?" Andrew Thorburn, CEO of National Bank of Australia (NAB.AX), the country's No.1 business lender, said last month.

    China will not keep carrying Australia. China won't even be able to take care of itself if it doesn't radically change its own governance.

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  29.    US teens often forced to trade sex work for food, study finds | US news | The Guardian

    Still opposed to a substantial universal income?

    A nation-state that creates its own currency (which the US does) that allows hunger and homelessness, etc., has very stupid policy. Hunger and stress lowers IQ.

    If you think that's a good thing, to have more people clamoring for low wages, you're more than sadly mistaken. The costs of hunger and homelessness far outweigh any supposed benefits to the elite in the form of a larger share of the pie. The pie is simply that much smaller while the planet goes to hell.

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  30.    GPS Placed California Arson Suspect at Scene of Wildfire That Destroyed 189 Homes

    Wow!

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  31.    4 Tornadoes Sweep Through Central Illinois, Damage Reported

    …properties were damaged or destroyed….

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  32.    China's failed experiment with democracy – YouTube

    Wukan, the village in southern China that held democratic elections after protests over land sales in 2012, has descended back into violence after the village chief was sentenced to jail.

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  33.    Illusory Redundancy Strikes Again — Rethink Risk—The Blog

    Good risk-management piece.

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  34.    Fewer Unions, Lower Pay for Everybody – The Atlantic

    It could be that globalization made it easier for companies to offshore the type of jobs that once paid a good wage in America. Or maybe technology is to blame, as machines replaced physically demanding and repetitive jobs that once employed blue-collar workers. A third theory, supported by Saez himself, argues that declining top tax rates for the very rich allow them to earn more and save more money, creating a vast and growing income gap. But there's another factor that isn't often addressed by the above theories, which is the role that rules and regulations governing the minimum wage and unionization have played in eroding the middle class.

    It's all of the above, but unionization is passe at best. We need democratization now, not re-unionization.

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  35.    The Euro: Why Joseph Stiglitz Is Wrong

    Why is the absence of democracy at the top missing from this article?

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  36.    An app that helps renters set their price raises fears of apartment bidding wars – Curbed

    Bidding wars among buyers but also renters?

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  37.    Which U.S. Commercial Real Estate Sectors Might Be Nearing Oversupply? – Urban Land Magazine

    Apartment construction has increased steadily for a number of years, prompting worries about overbuilding in spite of ongoing strong demand. RentCafe, an apartment search website, recently reported that approximately 320,000 apartments will be delivered nationally in 2016, up from about 200,000 units in 2015, based on data from Yardi Matrix. National apartment statistics reflect a healthy market, with low vacancy and positive rent growth. However, some markets are experiencing excess supply, most notably at the high end of the market. Real estate investment trusts (REITs) like Avalon Bay and Equity Residential with significant investments in markets like Manhattan and San Francisco have cut their revenue forecasts several times this year, citing weakness in these markets.

    There's a long way to go in many, many markets before there's anything nearing an oversupply of affordable rentals.

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  38.    Democratising Europe — a transnational project? | openDemocracy

    More from Yanis Varoufakis:

    … the Spanish movement sparked off the huge demonstrations in Athens that led to the Greek indignados movement which, later, turned into Syriza's January 2015 electoral triumph. This is why the Troika 'had' to crush our government — to prevent such 'contagion' from spreading. And they were largely successful, as you point out. The crushing of the Athens Spring stemmed the rise of Podemos and is threatening Spain with a return to the two party system.

    Similarly, the Nuit Debout movement would have been more effective in spreading the spirit of defiance throughout Europe if the Athens Spring had succeeded. But, having said that, as I travel across Europe, I stumble upon considerable evidence that what we started in Athens in 2015, despite the sad outcome, is still alive and has the potential of spreading. This is what DiEM25 is about: effecting the contagion of democratic policies, and the surreptitious creation of a European Demos, that the Troika is so keen to impede.

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  39.    OSHA Issues New Workplace Safety Rules

    Are you up on the changes?

    … the new ban on blanket drug testing policies will not apply in the event that state workers compensation laws or relevant federal law require an employer to maintain such drug testing policies.

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  40.    Three brothers with disabilities found dead after house fire, police investigating arson | NBC4i.com

    The Fire Marshal ruled the fire an arson later Thursday evening and police are investigating it as a triple homicide.

    I can see why.

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  41.    Own-to-Rent: The Foreclosure Crisis and Single-Family Home Rentals – Zillow Research

    As of the end of 2014, the metros with the largest shares of rented single-family homes were mostly in California’s Central Valley â€" Merced (36.6 percent), Modesto (31.3 percent), Yuba City (31.0 percent), Stockton (31.0 percent), Visalia (30.8 percent), Hanford (30.6 percent), Salinas (30.5 percent), Fresno (29.4 percent), and Santa Cruz (29.2 percent). The only metro in the top 10 that wasn’t in California was Fayetteville, North Carolina (32.0 percent), which is dominated by Fort Bragg, a U.S. Army base ….

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  42.    Reasons For Further Growth Of U.S. Real Estate Prices – iShares U.S. Real Estate ETF (NYSEARCA:IYR) | Seeking Alpha

    Based on a comparison of Monthly Supply of Houses and New One-Family Houses Sold, one can easily see that demand for houses is rising but inventories are decreasing that is causing price growth.

    Moreover, it is important to know that the monthly volume of total housing starts is staying approximately at the same level since April 2015.

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  43.    Socialize the Banks: Breaking up the banks won't do. They should be publicly owned and democratically controlled, by Nuno Teles

    The article is wrong.

    … credit is central to any economy, capitalist or otherwise.

    That is not a true statement. Public ownership and democracy are, nevertheless, good ideas for banking.

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  44.    Trump "Penny Plan" Would Mean Large Cut in Non-Defense Spending | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

    Mr. Trump proposes to use these spending cuts to pay for about one-fifth of his $4.4 trillion tax cut plan. He says the remaining four-fifths would be offset by the higher economic growth (and resulting revenues) he contends his tax plan and regulatory reforms would produce. If these growth assumptions — which should be treated with considerable skepticism[1] — fail to materialize, even larger spending cuts would be needed to offset the tax cuts, or the tax cuts would substantially increase the deficit.

    I would not say "considerable skepticism" but "outright contempt."

    The Trump plan is nothing less than the repeatedly tried and failed austerity/trickledown approach. It is nothing more than a scam to privatize and further enrich the superrich at the negative expense of everyone (and whether Donald Trump knows that or not, which he probably doesn't).

    Look, we don't need to cut government spending or privatize anything. All we need to do is democratize the economy so that the money supply is used to further the general welfare and is controlled scientifically. Yes, I said above that economics is not a pure science; but calculations don't stop working just because a topic isn't pure science ("science" in the general usage sense). It's very doable. We increase growth and raise all boats simultaneously. If done properly, we could completely and immediately eliminate poverty without causing any price inflation!

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  45.    PineIsland: An Iceberg as Large as New York City – YouTube

    Fascinating:

    Scientists are closely monitoring a giant iceberg in the making, as a crack in Antarctica's Pine Island glacier widens.

    I think it's clearly a product of anthropogenic global warming in action even in the Antarctic.

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  46.    Modifying the Fed's policy framework: Does a higher inflation target beat negative interest rates? | Brookings Institution

    You know, when negative-interest rates were first being discussed, I always thought about them in two different places: negative rates being charged by the bank and negative rates being paid by the bank but then also on loans versus "savings" and then at the Fed but also at commercial banks. It took a while for it to become clear that the bankers decided to discuss only one "place" or application: charging on savings (a fee to hold money) at the Fed.

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  47.    Landlords listen up: Find the best rental returns here

    Of course, different investors have different amounts of money to invest and differing capabilities concerning management of out-of-state or area investment properties. Plus, the best places to invest change depending on a whole host of other factors. It is a typical mistake to invest in an area at its peak in the cycle. Timing the cycle isn't an easy matter either and especially in this post-Great Recession market where so many rules of economic thumb have been broken.

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  48.    Facts about U.S. Latinos for Hispanic Heritage Month | Pew Research Center

    Today Hispanics make up 18% of the U.S. population, up from 5% in 1970.

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  49.    13 Proactive Ways to Increase Rent & Add Value to Your Rental Property

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  50.    Corpus Christi Named the Best City to be a Kid – Zillow Porchlight

    Well, there are other factors, such as weather and crime. Kids wants some freedom. Being stuck inside all the time isn't fun. Of course, I'm more than a bit old-school on this. Some kids need to be really prodded these days to go outdoors and to get off the computer devices.

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  51.    The Cost of Off-Campus Rent at Top Colleges – Zillow Porchlight

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  52.    Michael Pettis Calls Surplus Trade Statements by German Finance Minister "Utter Lunacy" | MishTalk

    The best move would be for Germany to leave the eurozone. Germany is in the best shape to suffer the consequences.

    Only in the short run.

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  53.    Ford shifting all U.S. small-car production to Mexico

    In addition to the North American Free Trade Agreement, automakers are also drawn to Mexico because of its lower wages, trade agreements with 44 other countries, a robust rail and shipping infrastructure and a workforce that has proven it can make high-quality cars.

    What about other standards: Worker rights, environmental protection, and occupational safety and health? How high are the wages versus the cost of living of those workers in Mexico too?

    I'm all for people all over the world having good livings, but that includes high standards being upheld right from the start! That's been my position since day one, since before NAFTA.

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  54.    Lessons from Finland: helping homeless people starts with giving them homes | Housing Network | The Guardian

    I really, really like this "housing first" policy/program. Not using it should only be applied on a case-by-case basis depending upon whether the individual can handle having a home, such as in the case of insanity of a form where the responsibilities of a home would be too overwhelming even to the extent of highly scaring the individual. In other words, compassion must outweigh what might be otherwise coercion.

    In Finland, housing options included the use of social housing, buying flats from the private market to be used as rental apartments for homeless people, and building new housing blocks for supported housing. An important part of the programme was the extensive conversion of shelters and dormitory-type hostels into supported housing, to address the huge need for accommodation that offered help to tenants. The last big hostel for homeless people in Helsinki with 250 bed places was run by the Salvation Army. A couple of years ago this hostel was renovated and now consists of 80 independent apartments with on-site staff. The disappearance of temporary solutions like hostels has completely changed the landscape of Finnish homelessness policy in a very positive way, for vulnerable individuals and in combatting antisocial behaviour.

    All this costs money, but there is ample evidence from many countries that shows it is always more cost-effective to aim to end homelessness instead of simply trying to manage it. Investment in ending homelessness always pays back, to say nothing of the human and ethical reasons.

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  55.    A look at the new Wall Street scheme to make money with your home – MarketWatch

    Hmmm?

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  56.    China's Housing Gets Scarily Expensive – Bloomberg View

    More of the same only worse, much worse: As I wrote before I saw anyone else do so, the Chinese leadership does not know what it is doing.

    Xi is an economics illiterate. He cannot have his cake and eat it too. He cannot have a Marxist-Capitalist-anti-democratic dictatorship that will not fail and fall. He's delusional, and so are all the others who think he can pull it off.

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  57.    Divided European leaders struggle with post-Brexit vision | Reuters

    Merkel's mess: She didn't rise to the occasion to save Europe after the crash ushering in the Great Recession.

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  58.    Understanding Society: Guest post by Dave Elder-Vass

    Dave Elder-Vass:

    … we need to start defining the economy in functional terms: economic practices are those that produce and transfer things that people need, whether or not they are bought and sold. As soon as we do that, it becomes apparent that we are surrounded by non-market economic practices already. The book highlights digital gifts — all those web pages that we load without payment, Wikipedia's free encyclopaedia pages, and open source software, for example. But in some respects these pale into insignificance next to the household and family economy, in which we constantly produce things for each other and transfer them without payment. Charities, volunteering and in many jurisdictions the donation of blood and organs are other examples.

    If we are already surrounded by such practices, and if they are proliferating in the most dynamic new areas of our economy, the idea that they are unworkably utopian becomes rather ridiculous.

    That's been my exact contention for decades.

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  59.    The state of macroeconomics is not good – The Washington Post

    One could argue that the two subfields of economics that have had the largest real-world policy influence have been in finance and macroeconomics. The problem is that this influence has mostly been catastrophic.

    Well, let's differentiate between Classical-Liberal economists and sane people. Okay, that's a joke, sort of. There were plenty of economists who called the crash and then called the slow recovery due to austerity. Give them credit!

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  60.    Safety Net Cut Poverty Nearly in Half Last Year | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

    Safety net programs cut the poverty rate nearly in half in 2015, lifting 38 million people — including 8 million children — above the poverty line ….

    That's better than doing less, but we can lift everyone well above the poverty line. Why haven't we done it? What's wrong with us? It would be easy. It would "cost" nothing. It wouldn't cause high price-inflation either.

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  61.    America's Inequality Problem: Real Income Gains Are Brief and Hard to Find – The New York Times

    Gains may be finally trickling down to those at the bottom of the ladder. But the numbers still offer a lopsided picture, with a gargantuan share of income rising to the top. While the bottom fifth of households increased their share of the nation's income, by the census's definition, to 3.4 percent from 3.3 percent, the richest 5 percent kept 21.8 percent of the pie, the same as in 2014.

    At the bottom of the ladder, households at the 10th percentile — those poorer than 90 percent of the population — are still a bit poorer than they were in 1989. Americans have managed to develop an internet economy, invent social media and build driverless cars since then, but not to improve the lot of those at the bottom.

    Men's earnings from work increased 1.5 percent, according to the United States Census Bureau, but their incomes are still lower than in the 1970s.

    Of course, the Census Bureau's numbers on income and poverty don't add up to a perfect representation of families' means. For one thing, they include only "money income" — excluding in-kind government benefits like housing vouchers or food stamps. They don't include the impact of taxes, ignoring the earned-income tax credit, which provides substantial help to families with low earnings.

    Across the entire bottom 60 percent of the distribution, households are taking home a smaller slice of the pie than they did in the 1960s and 1970s. The 3.4 percent of income that households in the bottom fifth took home last year was less than the 5.8 percent they had in 1974. With their share shrinking with almost every economic cycle, it is hardly a surprise that it takes longer for them to experience any income gains at all. Growth, alone, is not adding to their prosperity as it once did.

    By contrast, households in the top 5 percent have profited nicely from America's expansions. In 2015, they took in $350,870, on average. That is 4.9 percent more than in 1999 and 37.5 percent more than in 1989.

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  62.    Man, girlfriend face arson, insurance fraud charges

    Daniel Friedman told investigators that he and his girlfriend, Makenzie McCollister, set fire to his Spring home at 9700 Old Timber Lane with the intention of filing an insurance claim.

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  63.    Owners of Georgia Apartments Ordered to Pay $10M in Shooting Death of Resident

    Landlords and managers take note: An Atlanta apartment owner has been ordered to pay $10 million because a tenant was shot to death and there wasn't high enough security at the apartments in the high-crime area.

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  64.    Poll: Americans Willing to Pay Slightly More to Combat Global Warming

    Of those polled, 77 percent said climate change is happening ….

    That number is up and will continue going up if we don't do enough to slow, stop, and reverse global warming pretty soon.

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  65.    Mistrial Declared After Deadlock Over Whether Notorious Convicted Arsonist Is Sane : The Two-Way : NPR

    Nearly 50 arson fires blazed in Los Angeles during a four-day span over the holidays five years ago.

    Earlier this month, a jury convicted a 29-year-old German named Harry Burkhart of setting those fires in carports, garages and driveways. But as reporter Danielle Karson tells our Newscast unit, a judge declared a mistrial after that same panel deadlocked over whether Burkhart is insane.

    Only eight members of the 12-member panel thought he was insane, as Danielle reported. "Burkhart faced 90 years in prison if he was found sane," she says. "If the jurors decided he was insane, Burkhart would be sent to a state mental hospital."

    I do not agree with the legal-sanity/insanity system. Whether someone "knew" what he or she was doing and whether it was right or wrong is irrelevant to whether the person is mentally ill and should or should not be treated for it. Anyone setting such fires is definitely mentally ill and needs treatment.

    As far as I'm concerned, the insanity plea should be done away with entirely. Guilt is irrelevant to mental illness. Nobody is not guilty by reason of insanity. A person did or didn't do the crime. The crime itself and why it happened determines the type and degree of treatment that should be administered.

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  66.    Thirst for Yield Drives Record Investor Inflows to Real Estate Funds – MoneyBeat – WSJ

    … mutual fund investors poured the most money on record into real estate in the second week of September, according to EPFR Global, which tracks exchange-traded funds that invest in U.S.-listed real estate companies. The net $2.9 billion committed trounced the previous record of $1.68 billion set earlier this year.

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  67.    Put Globalization to Work for Democracies – The New York Times

    Whom does this mostly sound like?

    … lack of openness is no longer the binding constraint on the world economy; lack of democratic legitimacy is.

    … global governance should focus on enhancing democracy, not globalization. Global governance cannot overcome major problems like inequality, social exclusion or low growth, but it can help by devising norms that improve domestic policy making, like requirements on transparency, public deliberation, broad representation, accountability and use of scientific or economic evidence in domestic proceedings. To some extent, the World Trade Organization already advocates these disciplines. They deserve greater priority over trade liberalization and regulatory harmonization.

    And finally, nondemocratic countries like Russia [Russia? Dani Rodrik is a pushover for neocon propaganda], China and Saudi Arabia — where the rule of law is routinely flouted and civil liberties are not protected — should not be able to count on the same rights and privileges in the international system as democracies can. When a nation is not democratic, we can no longer presume that its institutional arrangements reflect the preferences of its citizens. Therefore it lacks a prima facie argument for shielding its market rules from international scrutiny. It would be appropriate for democracies to consider less permissive rules for them — for example, by requiring a higher burden of proof from non-democracies when they file a trade complaint against democracies.

    When I present these ideas to globalization advocates, they say the consequence would be a dangerous slide toward protectionism. But today the risks on the other side are greater, namely that the social strains of hyperglobalization will drive a populist backlash that undermines both globalization and democracy. Basing globalization on defensible democratic principles is its best defense.

    Okay, that's what I've been writing on this blog for years now only on a decidedly more radically democratic level.

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