News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Sept. 11, 2017

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) Hurricane Irma: Florida under hurricane watch as deadly storm eyes US

2) Equifax says cyber breach could affect 143M consumers

3) China Realizes It Needs Foreign Companies – Bloomberg

4) Russia Faces Internal Battle Over Bitcoin

5) The hackers who broke into Equifax exploited a flaw in open-source server software — Quartz

6) Harvey shakes up Houston's real estate market

7) How much does it cost to evacuate ahead of a storm?

8) ALERT™ :: Event Summary: Chiapas Mexico Earthquake 9/8/2017

9) Oregon Wildfire Sparks Eruption Comparisons

10) New Texas Task Force Formed to Investigate Hurricane-Related Fraud

11) A band of idiots, clowns and thieves are en route to flooded areas, and they're up to no good | Watchdog | Dallas News

12) Hurricane Irma: Follow these tips to avoid insurance, repair scams | Miami Herald

13) Hurricane Irma Moving Away From Northern Coast of Cuba; Will Be a Dangerous Major Hurricane While Moving Over Florida Keys Sunday Morning

14) AIR estimates insured losses for Irma for the US & selected islands will be USD 20 to 65 billion

15) Sustainable Urban Water Systems: A View from the Tap — National Geographic Society (blogs)

16) Hurricanes Harvey & Irma: What We Know and What to Expect – Zillow Research

17) Germany's "Model Economy" is not exportable but rather beggar thy neighbor and thy working class

18) Omaha apartment complex features smart-home technology | Charlotte Observer

19) Houston's next big storm: Mosquitoes | Nation | postguam[.]com

20) America Can't Afford to Rebuild [Yes, it can but only if …]

21) Capitalism, the State and the Drowning of America

22) EU brushes off 'democratic scandal' of Greek bailout

23) Hurricane Irma Brings Wind Gusts Over 140 MPH to Naples After Marco Island Landfall; Severe Strike on Southwest Florida Underway

24) Mexico mourns earthquake dead in devastated southern city | News | DW | 10.09.2017

25) Cuba Ravaged, 1,200 Americans Rescued As Deadly Hurricane Irma Finally Leaves Devastated Caribbean Behind

26) Donald Trump tax plan gives the wealthy a break – Washington Times

27) Hell Hath No Fury Like a Crypto-Bubble Denier Scorned — Douglas in Vegas

28) ALERT™ :: Event Summary: Hurricane Irma 9/11/2017 2:35:00 AM

29) Hurricane Irma: Flooding hits Miami and South Florida | Miami Herald

30) Forests west of the Cascades will see more fires, bigger fires with climate change | The Seattle Times

31) I Worked With Elon Musk And Learned That Intelligence Is Not The Key To Success

  1.    Hurricane Irma: Florida under hurricane watch as deadly storm eyes U.S.

    Irma, the most powerful Atlantic storm ever, left a trail of death and destruction across the Caribbean as it howled past Puerto Rico and Hispaniola on a steady course toward the U.S. mainland.

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  2.    Equifax says cyber breach could affect 143M consumers

    It doesn't say what the vulnerability was. Was it unique to Equifax? If not, will they share in a responsible manner so others can plug holes before it's too late for them?

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


  3.    China Realizes It Needs Foreign Companies – Bloomberg

    Due to shady invoicing — which many firms use to evade capital controls — the money flowing into China through its trade surplus has shrunk. From 2010 through 2014, banks reported net settlement inflows from goods trade of nearly $1.7 trillion. Since January 2015, net settlement by banks has amounted to only $278 billion, while the official trade surplus is $1.3 trillion. For a country that relies on capital accumulation to sustain growth, this is a significant problem.

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


  4.    Russia Faces Internal Battle Over Bitcoin

    Elvira Nabiullina is exactly right. It would be a total disaster to allow private "currencies" of this type to compete with the state's (People's democratic) currency. Of course, the current currency does need to be more democratically controlled, but shouldn't stop extremely strong regulations of private crypto securities. Frankly, I wouldn't allow them at all. I think Vladimir Putin is being shortsighted about them.

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


  5.    The hackers who broke into Equifax exploited a flaw in open-source server software — Quartz

    This is the kind of info we need before it's too late. "Apache Struts" contains the vulnerable code. We don't use it here at PropertyPak.

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


  6.    Harvey shakes up Houston's real estate market

    This is more rah-rah than I think it ought to be, but it's mostly based upon real estate agent and broker commentary. If the city doesn't do enough about building codes, zoning, and urban planning to include massive upgrades in flood prevention, handling, and mitigation and/or it the US and world doesn't do enough to correct global warming, then the idea of buying a place with some sense of security just because it has only been flooded once is more than a bit pie in the sky to me.

    If buyers are planning to depend upon flood insurance, then that constitutes what we call morale hazard in the insurance industry. Don't expect insurers to underwrite properties if governments haven't done enough. They aren't in it for charity, even though the industry is based upon spreading risks across a pool of insureds. They're also in it for their investors. The insurance companies won't be able to turn to reinsurance either. Reinsurers are no fools.

    Gamble at your own risk.

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  7.    How much does it cost to evacuate ahead of a storm?

    Dan Odess, GlobalPro Recovery CEO, discusses how to prepare for a hurricane before leaving home and how much it costs to evacuate and recover.

    How much does it cost to evacuate ahead of a storm? from CNBC.

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


  8.    ALERT™ :: Event Summary: Chiapas Mexico Earthquake 9/8/2017

    Building codes in Mexico are among the most comprehensive in the world, but there are no national codes (each of the more than 2,400 municipalities in Mexico enacts and enforces its own regulations), and code enforcement can be weak and designers and contractors often do not fully apply building regulations.

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  9.    Oregon Wildfire Sparks Eruption Comparisons

    The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, a federal agency that coordinates wildfire-fighting, said 80 large fires were burning on 2,200 square miles (5,700 square kilometers) in nine Western states.

    There's ash from the fires on my car right now. Today (Saturday, Sept. 8, 2017) was the first real break from the smoky air we've had since it started. It was the second wave of such smoke this season. The first lasted much longer but wasn't as intense. You know it's pretty smoky when the Sun is deep red in the middle of a dry day.

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


  10.    New Texas Task Force Formed to Investigate Hurricane-Related Fraud

    Insurance companies and the industry are often targeted as being anything from excellent to utterly corrupt. It's too bad that those who attack the industry as a whole don't also cite stats about those who strive to defraud the industry, harming premium payers and other insureds.

    The task force played a role in many of the prosecutions of 1,463 defendants for disaster-related crimes associated with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

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


  11.    A band of idiots, clowns and thieves are en route to flooded areas, and they're up to no good | Watchdog | Dallas News

    Texas still has some Wild West aspects. Houston without adequate codes or zoning comes to mind. However, building/construction companies without state licenses is another.

    Are you opposed to occupational licensing? Would you rather deal with an insurance broker who didn't have to take courses and pass tests and doesn't have to do the same as continuing education required by the states?

    Well, why would you want to hire a building or roofing contractor who's not licensed?

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


  12.    Hurricane Irma: Follow these tips to avoid insurance, repair scams | Miami Herald

    The list of things to do and not to do is long indeed, but the more you hear them, hopefully the more automatic they should become.

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


  13.    Hurricane Irma Moving Away From Northern Coast of Cuba; Will Be a Dangerous Major Hurricane While Moving Over Florida Keys Sunday Morning

    Not to minimize the tragedy of it, it will be instructive to see how well the forecasters did. As our technology continues improving, will accuracy be able to keep up with, and even be able to improve in the face of, increasingly changing climate?

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


  14.    ALERT™ :: Event Summary: AIR estimates combined insured losses for Hurricane Irma for the United States and selected islands in the Caribbean will be between USD 20 billion and USD 65 billion.

    If Miami were to be hit directly, more people would wake up to the reality of human-caused global warming. However, more innocent people would be damaged or even killed. People need to wake up without having to be hit directly.

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


  15.    Sustainable Urban Water Systems: A View from the Tap — National Geographic Society (blogs)

    When you invest, how much weight do you give to urban planning that includes handling storm water?

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


  16.    Hurricanes Harvey & Irma: What We Know and What to Expect – Zillow Research

    Housing has historically been affordable in the area because it's relatively easy to build homes there. Unfortunately, a lot of those homes were built in areas vulnerable to flooding, both on the coasts and from rising rivers and bayous farther inland. One reason it's so cheap to build in the area is that premiums for flood insurance haven't always been properly calibrated to the actual risk of building there. Development can look a lot cheaper if the full risk and cost of flooding isn't added to the final price tag.

    Construction workers are in short supply in all areas of the country, which means regional building costs could increase meaningfully. If the experience of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is any guide, the Houston area by itself could expect an influx of more than 20,000 construction workers over the next 10 to 12 months as rebuilding gets underway. The combination of lost homes and an influx of workers brought in to help rebuild could push up housing costs in those parts of the state that were spared from substantial damage.

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


  17.    Germany's "Model Economy" is not exportable but rather beggar thy neighbor and thy working class

    'The Model Economy' in Germany is Growing a Class of Working Poor

    General election campaign is in full swing in Germany but little attention is being paid to the high proportion of working poor explains economist Heiner Flassbeck.

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  18.    Omaha apartment complex features smart-home technology | Charlotte Observer

    Wow, no mention of cyber security?

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


  19.    Houston's next big storm: Mosquitoes | Nation | postguam.com

    This is a double whammy. The pesticides are also a human-health and environmental issue.

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


  20.    America Can't Afford to Rebuild [Yes, it can but only if …]

    If you want to know what will happen to Houston and whatever part of Florida gets hit worst, think New Orleans/Katrina, but squared or cubed -thanks to the 2007/8 crisis.

    That's true if anti-post-Keynesianism prevails. If we go a step beyond post-Keynesianism, we can pay for it all without adding one red cent to the national debt, but who's listening? The bankers have had everyone in a trance for centuries. Who's ready to snap out of it?

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


  21.    Capitalism, the State and the Drowning of America

    In the early 1970s the Business Roundtable was established as a corporate lobbying group. Among its tasks was to undermine various forms of consumer and environmental regulation.

    This was the context for the assault on the liberal flood insurance program. By the 1990s, under the Clinton Administration, the pretense of regulating land use on the local level was all but dismissed in favor of a policy that simply encouraged localities to do the right thing to ensure the safety of people and property. It is not an accident that one of the worst-hit developments in Houston—southern Kingwood—was built in the last years of the twentieth century and the aughts right in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's designated 100-year floodplain.

    Nor is there anything the least bit natural in how cities in the postwar United States have functioned as profitable sites for capital accumulation. Developers have been able to derive profits from capitalist urbanization in coastal locations because of what was effectively a giant subsidy by the American state.

    Flirtation with disaster is in a sense the essence of neoliberal capitalism, a hyperactive form of this exploitative economic order that seems to know no limits. Some might find comfort in the words of Alexander Cockburn: "A capitalism that thrives best on the abnormal, on disasters, is by definition in decline."

    Others, myself included, worry that the current organization of this market economy to benefit the interests of capitalists, with its blind, utopian faith in the price mechanism, is likely to head in precisely the direction that the economic historian Karl Polanyi predicted in 1944. An institutional arrangement organized around a "self-adjusting market," he warned, "could not exist for any length of time without annihilating the human and natural substance of society; it would have physically destroyed man and transformed his surroundings into a wilderness."

    There's a great deal of truth in that.

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  22.    EU brushes off 'democratic scandal' of Greek bailout

    … Pierre Moscovici, the EU finance commissioner, took a more critical line.

    Over the weekend, he described the Eurogroup as a "democratic scandal", given that its talks are held behind closed doors and without any public accountability.

    "Let's face it, the Eurogroup as we know it is rather a pale imitation of a democratic body," he said in his blog on Saturday (2 September).

    Moscovici said the governance behind the EU's economic and monetary union had also lacked proper democratic oversight.

    "Sometimes in the past, when we look at Greece, it has been close to a democratic scandal," he said.

    Only close? No, it has been a democratic scandal. The EU is undemocratic. There's no doubt about it. It's why I opposed the setup right from the start. I knew what has happened would happen. It was inevitable. There was no other logical conclusion (short of major war or natural catastrophe that shut everything down).

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


  23.    Hurricane Irma Brings Wind Gusts Over 140 MPH to Naples After Marco Island Landfall; Severe Strike on Southwest Florida Underway

    The full fury of Irma arriving in southwest Florida, and will spread north.

    It boggles the mind that anyone would write that people shouldn't take hurricane warnings extremely seriously. It's difficult to predict yet exactly what a hurricane will do, but we are getting better at it (at least for now). The old adage "better safe than sorry" is apt here. Hurricane warnings that don't pan out can be an inconvenience in terms of prepping for the worst, but warnings that do pan out or even undershoot how bad things actually get or got are life savers for those who take necessary steps to prepare. Are there people who even "sensationalize" such events or act out of their own greed? Of course, but it's shortsighted and ignorant to paint all warnings with that brush.

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


  24.    Mexico mourns earthquake dead in devastated southern city | News | DW | 10.09.2017

    Reading about all these disasters can be depressing and leave one with a sense of being overwhelmed, but not reading them can leave one unaware and less likely to call for proper governmental policies, laws, and procedures.

    Obviously, it's better to know and be right than ignorant and wrong.

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


  25.    Cuba Ravaged, 1,200 Americans Rescued As Deadly Hurricane Irma Finally Leaves Devastated Caribbean Behind

    Wow, just wow!

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


  26.    Donald Trump tax plan gives the wealthy a break – Washington Times

    … President Trump's plan to pay for these cuts by gutting Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and education will be catastrophic for local economies and the customer bases that we small business owners rely upon," said Mr. Borris.

    Cutting taxes to shrink the safety net is bad policy. Cutting them to ramp up privatization is bad policy. If you want a smaller debt, then do away with government borrowing all together. Start issuing United States Notes. Get rid of Federal Reserve Notes. It's really that simple. The rest is noise.

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


  27.    Hell Hath No Fury Like a Crypto-Bubble Denier Scorned — Douglas in Vegas

    As Grant writes, "Argument holds no power against the locomotive force of a speculative mania."

    Apparently, well said.

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


  28.    ALERT™ :: Event Summary: Hurricane Irma 9/11/2017 2:35:00 AM

    AIR's estimates industry insured losses in the United States resulting from Hurricane Irma range from USD 20 billion to USD 40 billion. …

    AIR's modeled insured loss estimates for the United States do not include:

    Losses paid out by the National Flood Insurance Program

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


  29.    Hurricane Irma: Flooding hits Miami and South Florida | Miami Herald

    … the sight of storm surge cascading through low-lying streets and into buildings suggested a heavy price may be paid, especially in the city of Miami's prosperous urban core.

    Nevertheless, they were relatively fortunate not being on the Gulf.

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


  30.    Forests west of the Cascades will see more fires, bigger fires with climate change | The Seattle Times

    The three months that ended in August ranked as the third-hottest Pacific Northwest summer on record.

    Ironically, the smoke kept the heat down by quite a bit. There were days when it was forecast for the high 90's that didn't make it into the 90's once the smoke rolled in. That lasted for weeks.

    I can't see us not really finally confronting human-caused global warming the way we'd confront a full-on military invasion via a war economy. We need to end carbon burning with the same sense of urgency and determination that we pumped out bombers and tanks in WWII!

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


  31.    I Worked With Elon Musk And Learned That Intelligence Is Not The Key To Success

    I typically avoid the "motivational" articles. Generally, I've found them to be fleetingly inspiring at best. I like this article because it's not fluffy. In fact, it's not even written in an "inspiring" tone but almost matter-of-fact. I particularly liked this line, as I'm depending upon it being true:

    It's not intelligence. It's not being educated. It's not even experience. It's simply a determination to never ever give up. That is the most important element of success: dogged determination.

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


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