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↑ China quake death toll rises to 381, over 1,800 injured (PHOTOS) — RT News
Here’s some solid reporting from RT (Russia Today). Numbers are still rising. As of August 3, 2014:
Over 380 people were killed and around 1,800 injured after an earthquake measuring from 6.1 to 6.5, according to different estimates, toppled thousands of buildings in China’s southwestern Yunnan province.
↑ 16 U.S. states at high risk of damaging earthquakes -USGS | Reuters
Sixteen states are at high risk of damaging earthquakes over the next 50 years and certain areas of the United States face a higher threat of temblors than previously thought, a federal geological survey agency said.
The 16 states with areas facing the highest risk are Alaska, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
The survey noted a sharp spike in the number of earthquakes over magnitude 3, potentially driven by hydraulic fracturing in states like Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Between 2010 and 2012 more than 300 quakes were recorded, compared to an average of just 21 per year over recent decades in the region.
↑ The Beijing Bubble: Will China’s Housing Addiction Damage the Global Economy? | The National Interest
Back to China coverage: Christopher Whalen:
…Western observers should be careful not to think that a surge in “lending” by state-controlled banks and companies will necessarily lead to a Western-style correction, as bad loans cause capital losses. In China, the Communist Party simply allocates more resources to paper over credit problems.
We understand the point but don’t agree that the Chinese leadership really knows what it’s doing.
Their debt is growing. They can paper over it only so much before they have unacceptably high price inflation. They could write the whole thing off and take the one-time hit, but they don’t know what reforms to make to make it so, to make it a one-time hit.
The rich aren’t patriotic. There’s lots of corruption.
The leadership has been clearly vacillating, a sure indicator of befuddlement. Tied with the frenzy, it’s a toxic combination.
A federal judge has ordered a China-based maker of drywall to pay $55,000 in penalties and attorney fees — and to stop doing business in the United States — as punishment for refusing to take part in court proceedings over harm allegedly done by the product.
Defective drywall from China was installed in an estimated 12,000 to 20,000 homes and businesses, mostly in the South, during a building boom following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, in late 2005. Federal cases resulting from the damages were consolidated in New Orleans.
↑ The Ponzi Scheme Blog: July 2014 Ponzi Scheme Roundup
We’ll include the ones that mentioned “real estate.”
Below is a summary of the activity reported for July 2014. The reported stories reflect: 10 guilty pleas or convictions in pending cases; over 20 years of newly imposed sentences for people involved in Ponzi schemes; at least 8 newly discovered schemes allegedly involving over $440 million and over 25,000 victims; and an average age of approximately 51 for the alleged Ponzi schemers in the stories reported. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. And please remember that I am just relaying what’s in the news, not writing or verifying it.
Barbra Alexander, 66, a Monterey financial talk show host of “Money Dots,” was sentenced to 9 years in prison in connection with an $8 million Ponzi scheme that defrauded 49 victims of about $6.3 million. The scheme was aided by Michael Swanson, 65, and Beth Piña who were both previously sentenced. Alexander and Swanson operated APS Funding, which promised 12% returns on short-term loans for real estate buyers. Alexander used the money for jewelry, a kitchen model, and investments in Money Dots.
Sylvain Belair, the former general manager of Cosmodome, was charged in connection with an alleged real estate project in China. The scheme involved at least 47 investors who invested over $2 million. Patrick Boisvert has also been charged in connection with the scheme.
↑ Housing Horror: US low-income families face eviction from govt-subsidized bldgs – YouTube
Here’s some more non-geopolically-charged reporting from RT on some rather interesting real-estate news.
We’re all for more apartments, but there has to be a proper mix of them so all economic classes can live decently.
↑ Pubs to Pads: Classic British taverns disappear as developers take over – YouTube
While we’re at it, here’s another from RT.
The traditional London pub could soon be pulling its last pint. British watering holes are closing down fast, to be snapped up by developers, eager to replace them with lucrative apartment buildings.
Notice that all of the proposed new projects are for the luxury market.
Esther Mibab felt nervous in her home in The Acreage. So nervous that she kept her accordion-style hurricane shutters closed, even in the off-season. Closed and locked. From the outside.
Authorities say that cost her her life. After a fire erupted at the 66-year-old woman’s home one morning in January 2008, the result of a pot left on a stove, firefighters spent 40 minutes sawing through the shutters. By the time they found her, she was unconscious. She later died at the hospital.
↑ Young Adults Stay at Home as U.S. Multigenerational Living Rises – Bloomberg
A record 57 million Americans, or 18.1 percent of the population, lived in a multigenerational household in 2012, a report released today by the Pew Research Center in Washington showed. Almost one in four 25- to 34-year-olds had such living arrangements, and young men in particular were more likely to reside with their families.
↑ New flood plain maps will affect 2,000 structures – KXNet.com – Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND [source updated]
More people will be required to buy flood insurance in Fargo because of a change in flood plain maps.
About 2,000 homes and businesses will need insurance when the new Federal Emergency Management Association map goes into effect in January.
↑ Revere hit by tornado – Metro – The Boston Globe
A rare tornado roared through this seaside city with terrifying force Monday [July 28, 2014], uprooting hundreds of trees, ripping roofs off houses, and spurring an intensive recovery effort that could last weeks.
Carrying winds as high as 120 miles per hour, the powerful storm cut a destructive path through Revere’s central business district. It damaged more than 100 homes and turned a quiet residential neighborhood into a scene of stunned confusion in just a few minutes.
The first tornado to hit Suffolk County in at least 60 years, the twister snapped large oak trees and sent large sections of metal guardrails flying through the air, but no serious injuries were reported, officials said.
↑ Residential sprinkler mandate takes effect in Minn. in Jan. – News – Crookston Times – Crookston, MN – Crookston, MN
A new state requirement for the home building industry was published this week in Minnesota.
It means a sprinkler system is required for new houses larger than 4,500 square feet beginning in January.
“Seigel says the requirement won’t necessarily save lives….” We disagree.
Using crowd-sourced money and volunteers, Ken Buesseler has been testing samples from the Bering Strait to San Diego. So far none of the samples sent in have traces of radiation from Japan.
↑ How High is the Risk to Become Victim of a Natural Disaster: World Risk Index
A choropleth map that shows the natural disaster risk for 173 countries based on the 2013 World Risk Report.
…City Attorney Matthew Priore said officials acted with good intentions, only too hastily: State law requires homeowners to file claims with their insurance companies before seeking compensation from the city, he said. “Regardless of what we said, we have to follow the law,” Priore said. “I wouldn’t be doing my job if we didn’t look to another source of recovery to save the taxpayers money.” But Councilwoman Mary Sadrakula, who responded to Prybicien’s house on Friday, said the city should not force Prybician to file an insurance claim, possibly increasing his rates, over a mess he can’t be blamed for.
They need a backup prevention valve.
↑ New Suit Claiming Chinese Drywall Destroyed Homes
Lawyers for people who say defective Chinese drywall wrecked their homes have filed a new lawsuit against the manufacturers. It adds a new defendant — the Chinese commission that oversees 117 widespread companies including aerospace, nuclear power and electronics.
↑ [Highly recommended] Public Lecture: Professor Paul de Grauwe on ‘The Future of the Euro’ – YouTube
Organised by the Centre for Post-crisis Finance, on Thursday 13th February leading scholar of the economics of monetary union Professor Paul de Grauwe delivered a public lecture discussing The Future of the Euro.
↑ Mapping All 3,000 of Los Angeles’s Active Oil Wells – Oil Rigs of Los Angeles – Curbed LA
Los Angeles is an oil town and it has been for a long time. We know oil flows throughout LA in underground pipelines, that there is oil being extracted from under the Beverly Center right now, and that even pampered Beverly Hills High has a flowery, art-bedecked oil derrick (for now). But somehow the exact numbers are still surprising: there are now 3,000 active oil wells in LA County, says the LA Daily News. Would you like to know where they are?
↑ macroblog: What’s behind Housing’s June Swoon?
Carl Hudson and Jessica Dill:
The housing market appears to have endured a particularly cruel month in June. Fairly good numbers on existing home sales provided some antidote to a second consecutive monthly decline in housing starts and a sharp decline in new home sales. But that palliative is less comforting than it might otherwise be given the fact that existing sales were still 2.3 percent below the June 2013 rate, and budding optimism diminished further with this week’s unexpected drop off in the pace of pending home sales.
In her recent remarks before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and before the House Committee on Financial Services, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen took particular note of ongoing weakness in residential real estate:
The housing sector, however, has shown little recent progress. While this sector has recovered notably from its earlier trough, housing activity leveled off in the wake of last year’s increase in mortgage rates, and readings this year have, overall, continued to be disappointing.
She also knows that new jobs aren’t producing high enough wages at enough hours per week.
↑ Evicted, Durham man sets fire to former home, then turns self in :: WRAL.com
A man wanted by Durham police for breaking into an apartment he was evicted from and setting several fires in it turned himself in Saturday night.
↑ California governor declares state of emergency as wildfires rage | Jamestown Sun
California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency as wildfires raging in nearly a dozen northern California counties have burned thousands of acres and destroyed homes.
↑ CBRE’s New Way Of Working – YouTube
In 2014, CBRE has moved to New Way of Working culture, based on an agile working concept. Warsaw was the 6th CBRE office that has adopted its “Workplace 360” layout, following Amsterdam, Madrid, Los Angeles, Chicago and Prague.
↑ Millennials are dragging down homeownership
Homeownership continues to fall, and younger Americans will push it even lower.
Rising home prices, skyrocketing student loan debt, rising mortgage rates and changing life choices—any one factor would affect how and when people make the single largest investment of their lives. But add them up and the results are striking.
Look at multi-family.
Residential Construction for single-family and multi-family homes is up this year-over-year.
RALEIGH — Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin today announced the arrest of Johnny Lee Andrews, 50, of 307 Nelson St., Robersonville; he was charged with one count of felony burning of personal property and two counts each of second degree arson, insurance fraud and attempting to obtain property by false pretense.
↑ Behind Ohio drinking-water ban, a Lake Erie mystery (+video) – CSMonitor.com
…residents in an area of northwestern Ohio that included the state’s fourth-largest city, Toledo, are being told that their tap water is not safe for cooking or drinking. The governor has declared a state of emergency and deployed the National Guard to help get water and food to the region. As of Sunday morning, there were no reports of anyone being sickened by tap water.
Toxins in the water have been linked to an algae bloom in Lake Erie, which is a primary source of drinking water for many Ohio communities. In recent decades, Lake Erie has seen large blooms of blue-green algae develop in its western basin. In 2011, the algae covered a record 1,930 square miles of Lake Erie — nearly 20 percent of the entire surface of the lake.
The blooms grow from an excess of phosphorus, which is a key ingredient in many fertilizers. Lake Erie is particularly prone to the blooms because rivers carry runoff from farmland into the shallow western basin of the lake.
↑ Prosecutors: Arsonist used Molotov cocktail on parents’ house, tried to frame detective
According to prosecutors, a convicted arsonist, who has twice staged being abducted, used a Molotov cocktail to set his parents’ home on fire last March and tried to frame a detective, who is also a deputy county fire marshal, for the offense.
…homeowners in the Grand Chenier area will see cheaper fire insurance premiums because of the fire district’s improved protection rating.
The fire protection grading for Fire District 9 in Cameron Parish has improved from a Class 6 to a Class 5. Mark LeBouef, district fire chief, said Wednesday that the improved rating was largely the result of firefighters quickly responding to fires, most of which are grass fires.
↑ Man finds his stolen items in neighbor’s debris after tornado – WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports
A home in the Tri-Cities area was right in the path of a tornado Sunday and when the community came to help, they discovered some things they were missing.
When a neighbor came to see if everyone was ok, he found things that had been stolen from him.
↑ Affordable Housing Draws Middle Class to Inland Cities – NYTimes.com
The country’s fastest-growing cities are now those where housing is more affordable than average, a decisive reversal from the early years of the millennium, when easy credit allowed cities to grow without regard to housing cost and when the fastest-growing cities had housing that was less affordable than the national average. Among people who have moved long distances, the number of those who cite housing as their primary motivation for doing so has more than doubled since 2007.
↑ Adam Posen on Japan’s Recovery: Going Right, Just Not Going Well – Real Time Economics – WSJ
A year and a half after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched his program to end Japan’s long slump, a number of economists are turning skeptical about prospects for success. One remaining optimist — albeit with some caveats — is Adam Posen, president of the Washington D.C.-based Peterson Institute for International Economics, and a long-time student of Japanese economics and finance. He also sits on the panel of economic advisers to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office and is a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee.
The Wall Street Journal sat down with Mr. Posen in Tokyo recently to get his assessment of how the “Abenomics” experiment is working.
↑ There’s No Defense for Today’s Income Inequality – Bloomberg View
This will surprise many. Edward D. Kleinbard:
Americans simply do not have equal opportunities. This is more than an ethical or social issue: Underinvestment in human capital leads to lower productivity, which is to say, lower national income. Comparative data show that the U.S. offers less social and economic mobility than do many of its peer countries — a startling rebuke to the mythology of America as the land of opportunity.
↑ Survey: Small bumps in home prices push buyers out of the market | TheHill
“This study highlights the real effects that building regulations have on housing affordability,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a homebuilder and developer from Wilmington, Del.
The solution isn’t deregulation. Deregulation is what caused the crash. The solution is higher wages.
↑ North Whitehall might start inspecting rental properties – themorningcall.com
With a rental property inspection ordinance, North Whitehall could hire inspection firms it now uses for new construction, Bartlett said. Those inspectors could check for such health and safety conditions as railings for porches, smoke detectors and working water and sewage.
“We are not talking about anything more than a basic health and safety inspection of the property,” Bartlett said.
The inspections could be done at minimal cost, which could be passed on to the tenants, he said, adding that annual safety inspections can bring down a landlord’s insurance rates.
“…passed unto the tenants…” in the form of higher rents? How about covering the cost via fines on slum landlords instead.
↑ U.S. housing market: Stuck in a multi-year hangover
While these protections are invaluable for homeowners who would have been wrongly foreclosed upon, the process of contesting these foreclosures in court can slow down the housing market’s ability to get these properties back on the market. As Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic, said in a statement, “There is concern over whether or not we can maintain this pace of improvement as the foreclosure inventory becomes more concentrated in judicial states with lengthier, more complex processes and timelines.”
The housing crisis also generated a very large class of underwater homeowners (a scenario in which the value of a home is lower than the mortgage debt that homeowners owe). The most recent analysis from Core Logic puts the number of underwater homes at 6.3 million, 12.7% of the homes in the U.S. with a mortgage. Now that home prices have more or less recovered to their pre-bubble peaks, it’s unlikely that we’ll continue to see the sort of price gains that we’ve become used to in recent years. That means that, just like with foreclosures, underwater homes will experience a very slow recovery.
↑ Just visiting: Short-term rental properties get mixed reviews by year-round residents
At Monday’s workshop, Lake George Trustee Ray Perry suggested requiring that short-term renters be licensed, then enacting a point system under which their licenses could be yanked if they pile up enough points from neighbors’ complaints.
He also floated the idea of a transient occupancy tax, “which could bring revenue to our community that we could spend on infrastructure.”
↑ Porn Out, Hotels In as Sunset Strip Reborn: Real Estate – Businessweek
“This is the most construction activity we’ve seen on the Strip since 1984,” Keho said. “We have several multistory buildings in the works, and we haven’t seen that for decades.”
↑ The BES way out? – YouTube
The Banco Espírito Santo rescue includes a split into good and bad banks. Lex’s Oliver Ralph and Joseph Cotterill discuss whether this is a true bail-in and how much, if anything, shareholders and junior bondholders in the bad bank might recover.
The bank’s creditors include depositors. Of course, many nations have deposit-insurance schemes in place. Who will be hit by bail-ins and for how much will vary from state to state. In Portugal, coverage is EUR 100,000 at 100%.
↑ Don’t Look Now, But Apartment Construction in Phoenix Ramping Up Fast – YouTube
A few years ago, apartment construction in bubble-busted Phoenix all but disappeared. But after initially missing out on the national apartment construction boom, Phoenix has quickly bounced back up and is now back among the nation’s most active development markets. What impact is this new wave having on fundamentals?