News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Aug. 1, 2017

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) Maybe We've Been Thinking About the Productivity Slump All Wrong – The New York Times

2) The Tories are still clinging to Poldark's bleak vision of capitalism | Paul Mason | Opinion | The Guardian

3) The toughest places for builders to construct new homes – RealtyBizNews: Real Estate News

4) Blaze Rips Through Massachusetts Apartment Complex Under Construction

5) Multifamily Isn't Scared of New Supply: US and Atlanta Multifamily Q2 Market Update: Bull Realty

6) Easier Financial Conditions Will Keep the Fed on Track – Bloomberg

7) Tsipras and Varoufakis go public with spat | News | ekathimerini[dot]com

8) New New Labour: forget ideological purity — Jeremy Corbyn is building a mass appeal party

9) Solving affordable housing: Creative solutions around the US – Curbed

10) Where the housing shortage is getting worse – Curbed

11) Debt ceiling tremors in the Treasury market – Bond Vigilantes

12) Netherlands and UK are biggest channels for corporate tax avoidance | World news | The Guardian

13) Despite new rules the UK will continue to be a haven for money laundering. Here's why | Left Foot Forward

14) These five countries are conduits for the world's biggest tax havens

15) There is nothing much that Milton Friedman got right! | Bill Mitchell — billy blog

16) Nine out of 10 people call for 'plastic-free aisle' in supermarkets, finds survey | The Independent

17) Confusing Drone Rules Cause Headaches for Businessowners

18) Grenfell fire: Police confirm reasonable grounds for corporate manslaughter charges – Get West London

19) 3 Tips for Hiring OSHA Compliant Contractors | Think Realty | A Real Estate of Mind

20) The Great Recession never ended

21) EU and China: European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker may present options for restricting Chinese takeovers — Quartz

22) Real Estate: Sustainable Growth Ahead | Investopedia

23) Billionaire investor Marks, who called the dotcom bubble, says bitcoin is a 'pyramid scheme'

24) Colorado Town Will Use Odor Ordinance to Regulate Fracking

25) 16 Vacant Homes Torched in Arson Fires in Missouri Town

26) Trying to Kill Bug, Kansas Woman Sets Apartment on Fire

27) At Midway Point, 2017 Is 2nd-Hottest Year on Record | Climate Central

28) Hidden Costs of Homeownership Typically Top $9,000 a Year – Zillow Porchlight

29) Bernie Sanders Sure Doesn't Understand Milton Friedman

30) Where does the buck stop?

31) Construction workforce dealing with a shortage – by Rick Kaplan : NEREJ

32) Stumbling and Mumbling: Reinventing the wheel

33) Is Extreme Heat the New Normal? – YouTube

34) Judge Refuses to Block California Gas Facility From Reopening

35) 7 Florida Homes Struck by Lightning During Severe Thunderstorm

  1.    Maybe We've Been Thinking About the Productivity Slump All Wrong – The New York Times

    … inventors and business innovators are always cooking up better ways to do things, but it takes a labor shortage and high wages to coax firms to deploy the investment it takes to actually put those innovations into widespread use.

    Mr. Mason adds that this idea has some big implications for how to think about growth in worker compensation in the current economic environment. There has been a glaring contradiction around how much American workers' wages can, or should, be rising.

    "On Mondays and Wednesdays, economists argue that wages are low because robots are taking people's jobs. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, it's that we can't have wages rise because productivity growth is low," said Mr. Mason, an economist at John Jay College. "Both can't be true."

    In other words, instead of worrying so much about robots taking away jobs, maybe we should worry more about wages being too low for the robots to even get a chance.

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  2.    The Tories are still clinging to Poldark's bleak vision of capitalism | Paul Mason | Opinion | The Guardian

    The reason there is discontent with capitalism is that, in its current form, it has failed. Not in a cyclical way, but in the form of a permanent cul-de-sac: where failure produces only oligarchic rule, attacks on democracy, higher inequality and rocketing asset prices alongside stagnating productivity.

    Instead of a beguiled and illiterate mass, the 21st-century Warleggans face the opposite: a young generation armed with information tools and human rights of which they cannot be deprived without depleting economic dynamism. The great illusion of Toryism for 200 years has been, essentially, that all revolts end up like the ones in Poldark. As long as you can deliver economic growth and social mobility, Jacobinism can be suppressed.

    Nothing has prepared British Conservatism for an era where that is no longer possible.

    To be clear, we're not talking about a mixed economy but laissez-faire capitalism. That's what the Tories have been about (particularly since Margaret Thatcher). It won't work. It can't last. It's not possible. It's logically impossible. It contains the seeds of its own destruction, and no amount of rigging can save it.

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  3.    The toughest places for builders to construct new homes – RealtyBizNews: Real Estate News

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  4.    Blaze Rips Through Massachusetts Apartment Complex Under Construction

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  5.    Multifamily Isn't Scared of New Supply: U.S. and Atlanta Multifamily Q2 Market Update: Bull Realty

    Nationally and locally, the new supply scare is off. Axiometrics goes as far as to call it a "myth" that too much supply has been added and that supply levels are "reaching more of a plateau than a peak." In fact, 4.6 million new apartments are needed by 2030 to meet demand, according to "Vision 2030," a report released in June by NAR and the National Multifamily Housing Council. "The expected strong construction in most markets is affecting rent growth and vacancy rates but with less of an impact than had been expected," said REIS.

    Well, that vindicates me, as I've been calling for more construction all along.

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  6.    Easier Financial Conditions Will Keep the Fed on Track – Bloomberg

    The Fed will certainly pay lip service to inflation, but the key is what policy makers say about their medium-term forecast. If they have reason to retain confidence of a return to the 2 percent target, they will retain their rate hike plans as well. And that confidence hinges on the path of the economy and financial conditions in general and labor markets in particular. They are, however, in no rush to pass judgment on this issue just yet. They have virtually the entire second half of the year to review their handwork.

    They are so paranoid (they say) about inflation getting ahead of them. I think what they really care about is bankers making more money.

    However, it's certainly not fair to place all the blame or burden on the Fed while Congress is full of members who know zero about where money comes from and how the fiscal budget impacts main-street economics. Then there are the ones who really know but don't want the people to.

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  7.    Tsipras and Varoufakis go public with spat | News | ekathimerini.com

    I have zero faith in Tsipras's version of events. Tsipras made promises and then did the exact opposite. Yanis Varoufakis is right that Tsipras knew of Yanis's plan before Tsipras picked Yanis. Also, the plan was clear and simple (would have worked and should have been employed).

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  8.    New New Labour: forget ideological purity — Jeremy Corbyn is building a mass appeal party

    Corbyn's leadership cannot and should not be perceived as a nostalgic return to a strong state thriving on high taxes and the provision of welfare at the expense of social mobility, entrepreneurship and ultimately electability. Instead, Corbyn's leadership is an attempt to develop a New New Labour based on the premise of participatory democracy.

    The conviction of the efficiency of an independent market in every aspect of social life including health, housing and education prevents political leaders and policymakers from implementing radical ideas. Corbyn's leadership and political programme highlighted the limitations of New Labour in times of crisis and distrust. New Labour has grown old, and the disbelief in socialism [in this case, social democracy, not democratic sociaalism] appears as a conservative dogma that only contributes to an ever-greater disparity between citizens and parliamentary politics.

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  9.    Solving affordable housing: Creative solutions around the U.S. – Curbed

    "We do know what solutions and policies work," says Giselle Routhier, policy director of the Coalition for the Homeless. "We just need the political will to make it happen."

    … "You'd have to go back to the Great Society to find a real national affordable housing strategy in the United States."

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  10.    Where the housing shortage is getting worse – Curbed

    Construction of new units nationally hit a low point after the Great Recession, with the number of permits issued hitting a record low in May of 2009. While the industry has recovered, it still isn't keeping pace with economic growth. The construction labor shortage—the number of companies building homes dropped by half between 2007 and 2012—has only exacerbated the problem.

    Most pro-landlord sites rah-rah rent-rate increases without ever considering the overall cost to the economy and indirectly, those same landlords, who must live in that same economy no matter how "insulated" they may think they are. What goes around, comes around, is an apt phrase. Externalities, as the libertarians euphemistically call the negatives of bad economics, really never are external. We are all ultimately better off when the bottom is lifted up. Landlords can make plenty of money by helping the poor: by pushing politicians to push through affordable-housing subsidies galore.

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  11.    Debt ceiling tremors in the Treasury market – Bond Vigilantes

    … the direction of Treasury yields and bond yields priced over them is highly uncertain, and indeed counterintuitive. Be careful.

    Well said.

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  12.    Netherlands and UK are biggest channels for corporate tax avoidance | World news | The Guardian

    Warning! Hardball-commentary follows:

    Tax dodging is a state-sponsored profit center. Don't be fooled. All nation-states know this. They haven't clamped down enough because the bankers rule. The money runs through the international banking system through which the bankers skim their cut. It's a scam, and everyone who isn't in bed with the bankers is the mark or sucker in the con game.

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  13.    Despite new rules the UK will continue to be a haven for money laundering. Here's why | Left Foot Forward

    What, you don't believe me? :-) The governments know this stuff through and through.

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  14.    These five countries are conduits for the world's biggest tax havens

    We looked not at country-level statistics but at detailed company data. By asking which countries and jurisdictions play a role in corporate ownership chains that is incommensurate with the size of their domestic economies, we were able to identify, for the first time, a complex global web of offshore financial centres.

    We analysed the entire massive global network of ownership relations, with information of over 98 million firms and 71 million ownership relations. This granular firm-level network data helped us to distinguish two kinds of tax havens: sinks and conduits.

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  15.    There is nothing much that Milton Friedman got right! | Bill Mitchell — billy blog

    If you still wondered why I never considered Milton Friedman to be very bright (actually, that's being charitable), Billy lays out part of why in his blog post about Friedman.

    In addition to all that Bill Michell spells out, I really took a strong disliking to Friedman's nonsense when he insisted that we treat environmental protection as being better handled by "market forces," by which he meant pure laissez-faire capitalism.

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  16.    Nine out of 10 people call for 'plastic-free aisle' in supermarkets, finds survey | The Independent

    Wow! What a great idea. Maybe we could get Amazon to offer not just free shipping but plastic-free packaging. We could go biodegradable and non-toxic.

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  17.    Confusing Drone Rules Cause Headaches for Businessowners

    FYI …

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  18.    Grenfell fire: Police confirm reasonable grounds for corporate manslaughter charges – Get West London

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  19.    3 Tips for Hiring OSHA Compliant Contractors | Think Realty | A Real Estate of Mind

    Accidents on the job site can increase what they charge due to higher worker's compensation insurance, insurance premiums and even OSHA fines, which can be quite hefty, costing tens of thousands of dollars.

    Performing inspections is an effective way for them to find and fix any unsafe working condition which can save you time and money. The fewer incidents on a job site equates to better working conditions and hopefully, lower rates and fees.

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  20.    The Great Recession never ended

    Taken together, the American economy looks quite similar to that of around 1939 or so. Back then, the New Deal had partially fixed the Great Depression, but had failed to restore full employment due to anxious politicians (including FDR) flipping out about the budget deficit and turning to austerity. It took the stupendous mega-spending of war mobilization to break the political deadlock and restore full employment and production.

    In 1939 as today, many argued that limp performance was simply the best that could be done. But it turned out after the war the economy did not collapse back to its prewar levels. Instead (after a brief hiccup from demobilization) it rocketed up into its greatest boom in history. Without the war, it's easily possible that America would have continued stuck in a quasi-depression indefinitely — as we appear to be today. But conversely, there is every reason to at least try to smash the economy back up to trend with another very large stimulus. Without it, we're due to start our second Lost Decade next year.

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  21.    EU and China: European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker may present options for restricting Chinese takeovers — Quartz

    … key technology companies and know-how is ending up in Chinese hands, sometimes state-owned, even as large swaths of China's industry are off limits to foreign acquisitions.

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  22.    Real Estate: Sustainable Growth Ahead | Investopedia

    Since 2010, they have constructed only some 5.6 million new housing units even as the country has seen the formation of 7.2 million new households. The builders are, as a consequence, at least 1.6 million behind. The gap is probably wider, since new construction figures fail to take account of the structures that have become uninhabitable and those in areas where people no longer want to live.

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  23.    Billionaire investor Marks, who called the dotcom bubble, says bitcoin is a 'pyramid scheme'

    I said this years ago, literally. Nevertheless, you go Howard!

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  24.    Colorado Town Will Use Odor Ordinance to Regulate Fracking

    The fracking industry and its supporters and campaign-donation recipients in various legislatures and other publlic offices fight the use of local ordinances against fracking with everything they can bring to bear. We shall see if this town can withstand the pressure.

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  25.    16 Vacant Homes Torched in Arson Fires in Missouri Town

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  26.    Trying to Kill Bug, Kansas Woman Sets Apartment on Fire

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  27.    At Midway Point, 2017 Is 2nd-Hottest Year on Record | Climate Central

    This!

    Wherever its final rank ends up, 2017 will almost certainly be hot enough to knock 1998 — the only remaining 20th century year among the top 10 warmest — down another spot, to No. 9 in NOAA's rankings.

    At the time, 1998's heat was exceptional, and was fueled in part by a major El Niño, which tends to raise global temperatures. But as Earth's temperature has steadily risen because of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, an El Niño isn't necessary to reach those heights anymore.

    In fact, years with La Niñas (which tend to cool global temperatures) are today warmer than El Niño years several decades ago. 2017 actually started out with a La Niña, albeit a weak one, but it is 0.38°F (0.21°C) ahead of 1998, Sanchez-Lugo, said.

    If the streak of very warm years continues, "I wouldn't be surprised if the next two to three years we would see '98 drop out of the top 10 warmest years on record," she said.

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  28.    Hidden Costs of Homeownership Typically Top $9,000 a Year – Zillow Porchlight

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  29.    Bernie Sanders Sure Doesn't Understand Milton Friedman

    I don't know how much Bernie Sanders knows about Milton Friedman and the Great Depression and Great Recession vis-a-vis the Fed. What I do know is that Tim Worstall has it completely wrong here in his article.

    Friedman's prescription is definitely not what prevented the Great Recession becoming a depression vastly deeper than was the Great Depression. Friedman urge monetarism, which is not what saved the day. Keynesianism is what saved the day: fiscal stimulus. Too bad we didn't have about 10 times more of it.

    Read the next link below to see the point.

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  30.    Where does the buck stop?

    Okay?

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  31.    Construction workforce dealing with a shortage – by Rick Kaplan : NEREJ

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  32.    Stumbling and Mumbling: Reinventing the wheel

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  33.    Is Extreme Heat the New Normal? – YouTube

    The Real News spoke with experts in Arizona, where high temperatures have grounded planes and significantly increased health emergencies.

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  34.    Judge Refuses to Block California Gas Facility From Reopening

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  35.    7 Florida Homes Struck by Lightning During Severe Thunderstorm

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