Linking ≠ endorsement.
⇧ One of the largest homeless camps in the U.S. being dismantled – The Week
Officials say an influx of tech workers has made rents skyrocket, pushing out many longtime residents who go on to live in the Jungle or one of San Jose’s 200 other outdoor encampments.
The city has already spent $4 million to help relocate the people who lived in the Jungle and help them get the services they need, the Los Angeles Times reports. One of those residents, Tiffany Curtis, will move into a studio or one-bedroom apartment paid for by the city as long as she works.
⇧ Unusual storms hit Sydney, typhoon threatening Philippines weakens – YouTube
Thunderstorms have been causing havoc in the Australian state of New South Wales and more are on the way.
Lightning, hailstorms, heavy rain and flash floods have struck the area from the Blue Mountains to western Sydney.
Several thousand people were left without electricity as another storm rolled through on Friday night local time.
Forecasters say the unusual subtropical conditions bringing a mixture of high humidity and storms will continue for another few days.
⇧ Hedge funds win big from oil plunge – YouTube
Not our typical topic (hedge funds), but oil is still fairly central:
John Authers talks to the FT’s Gregory Meyer and Stephen Foley about winners and losers from gyrations in the energy markets, and who is betting on $35 oil.
⇧ Huge gains in US employment – YouTube
Gains in jobs, increases in wage growth and a longer work week — all paint an unquestionably good picture for the US economy. So what does this mean for interest rates? The FT’s US markets editor Michael Mackenzie and Alphaville’s Cardiff Garcia weigh the options.
The Fed shouldn’t touch interest rates. The dollar is very strong. Let employment improve. Let wages rise. Let inflation kick in naturally and rise to even 3% before putting on any brakes.
Of course, the better alternative would be to replace the entire Federal Reserve System with a public bank and public money run by democracy rather than bankers and Wall Street speculators.
Geopolitics should not be ignored. We also haven’t seen the longer-term impact of the stronger dollar. There’s a lag time.
Wait to see is better than guessing that the Phillips Curve (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phillips_ curve) will move.
⇧ Mosler: The Saudis are still the swing producer. They are engineering the oil price crash – YouTube
Warren Mosler is one of the best economic analysts.
Contrast these comments to the FT video above. Here we correctly hear “slack” and about the low labor-participation rate.
[@3:53] Edward sits down with Warren Mosler — president of Valance Inc. In light of the jobs report, Warren gives us his take on what’s going on with wages in the US and if policymakers believe a robust economic recovery is possible without real wage growth. Warren also weighs in on the important subject of oil. He sees the Saudis acting as the swing producer of oil, using spread pricing to engineer a market crash that hurts producers of crude with high costs and too much debt.
What we think is going on with all the inflation-hawk talk is that the economic elitists are very afraid of being put in any position where they have to share more of the profits with labor. It’s an extremely shortsighted position, as demand drives the economy, not supply. If the workers can’t afford to buy, even supply will dry up and the size of the elite will continue shrinking/consolidating.
⇧ Global Wage Report 2014/15: Global wage growth stagnates, lags behind pre-crisis rates
“Wage growth has slowed to almost zero for the developed economies as a group in the last two years, with actual declines in wages in some,” said Sandra Polaski, the ILO’s Deputy Director-General for Policy. “This has weighed on overall economic performance, leading to sluggish household demand in most of these economies and the increasing risk of deflation in the Eurozone,” she added.
The growing gap between wages and productivity has translated into a declining share of GDP going to labour while an increasing share goes to capital, especially in developed economies.
This trend means that workers and their households are getting a smaller share of economic growth while the owners of capital are benefitting more.
“A comprehensive strategy will include minimum wage policies, strengthened collective bargaining, elimination of discrimination against vulnerable groups, as well as progressive taxation polices and adequate social protection systems.”
⇧ Changing trade patterns – | GE Look Ahead | The Economist
“China’s rise has dominated global manufacturing,” Mr Baptist noted—a trend he said would continue, noting that, while Chinese wages are rising, so is productivity. According to EIU projections, China will remain the world’s top exporter in 2030 while the US will fall from second to third place. Most notably, India will have risen from 13th place in 2014 to 2nd place by 2030; by 2050, India could be the world’s largest exporter.
⇧ Hold on: Jobs report wasn’t so great after all
Here’s the bad employment news the FT video above completely missed. This is what Warren Mosler was referring to in the Boom-Bust video.
A few figures to consider: That big headline number translated into just 4,000 more working Americans. There were, at the same time, another 115,000 on the unemployment line. That disparity can be explained through an expanding labor force, which grew 119,000, though the participation rate among that group remained at 62.8 percent, which is just off the year’s worst level and around a 36-year low.
But wait, there’s more: The jobs that were created skewed heavily toward lower quality. Full-time jobs declined by 150,000, while part-time positions increased by 77,000.
⇧ China Home Prices to Rebound Amid Strong Demand, JLL’s Dyer Says – Bloomberg
The nation’s housing market will get a renewed boost from strong interest driven by urbanization, lack of other investment opportunities and relatively limited supply due to land shortages, said Colin Dyer, president and chief executive officer of the Chicago-based real estate broker.
Are the Chinese people really going to remain so naive?
When are they going to push for democracy?
Right now, they are living under a one-party dictatorship headed up by elite Communist (in name only) Party members.
Are you old enough to remember that opening up trade with China was supposedly also going to cause China to become democratic? Well, it hasn’t yet; and it’s been a long time since the US granted China “Most Favored Nation” status.
⇧ Emerging markets mock the pessimists | Jim O’Neill at Bruegel.org
So is 2015 the year it all unravels? The now-traditional end-of-year prediction calls for a steep rise in U.S. bond yields. If that happened, then emerging-market economies with growing current-account deficits and a correspondingly heavy dependence on imported capital might struggle. But bear in mind two offsetting factors.
First, some of the economies seen as most at risk in this scenario — including India and Indonesia — are big energy importers and will benefit from cheaper oil.
Second, advanced-economy central banks have limited latitude — and in some cases, none — to tighten monetary policy and raise long-term yields.
In Japan and the euro area, further easing seems likelier than any tightening of monetary conditions. The U.S. has halted its quantitative easing program but will be in no hurry to advance its schedule for monetary tightening. There’s little prospect yet that the Federal Reserve will put the bonds it has bought back into the market. And it won’t see higher global bond yields as serving U.S. interests. U.S. exporters, after all, need customers.
It’s enough to make you think the crisis may be postponed yet again.
China, however, is can-kicking.
⇧ Where Wages Are Rising (And Falling), In 1 Graph : Planet Money : NPR
High-wage and low-wage jobs saw pay gains, while jobs in the middle saw wages stagnate or decline. This trend has been going on for a long time; MIT economist David Autor has called it the “hollowing out” of the middle class.
⇧ Capital Gains Tax On Sale Of Fourplex: Its Complicated | Bankrate.com
Dear Tax Talk,
We have had a fourplex apartment building for seven years. We have someone who wants to buy it. If we clear approximately $275,000 on the sale, how would we be able to estimate how much capital gains tax we would have to pay for 2014? My husband is 67 and I’m 65. Our combined income for 2014 will be about $95,000.
A: Dear Nancy,
⇧ Crowdfunding Platforms Are Not All Created Equal – YouTube
Dewayne Lener is the Director of Business Development at Ascenergy, LLC. Dewayne was one of many attendees that I interviewed at the IMN Real Estate Crowdfunding Forum in Santa Monica in September 2014.
⇧ Short sale tax break passes in House | HousingWire
Homeowners who had short sales in 2014 may not be facing massive tax bills after all, after the House of Representatives passed a one-year extension of the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act on Wednesday. According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, the House passed the extension of Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act, which was included in the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, by a 378-46 margin. If Congress had failed to act on the renew of the tax breaks, any mortgage forgiveness achieved in a . . .
Why mess around with this? Just make it permanent.
⇧ The Commercial Tenant Resource — Talking About a Devolution: The Privacy Crisis in America’s Offices
One of the major themes emerging out of the office focused real estate meeting is a renewed commitment to employee wellness by U.S. companies. I think that companies are realizing that there is a logical end to how dense our office environments can be. When you put alot of people in very close proximity for an extended period of time, all kinds of unintended consequences can occur. Privacy is and should be an offshoot of that discussion as we continue to ask people to work in those increasingly dense offices environments.
A major issue in these dense environments is the constant distraction of others near you. You can barely hear yourself think in some office settings.
According to a study by the University of California, colleagues or digital interference interrupts office workers as often as every 3 minutes. The study tells us what many know: once an interruption occurs, it can take up to 23 minutes to reengage in a focused, heads-down problem.
Collaboration is needed more than ever in our rapidly changing world. So is the need to actually do heads-down work. Corporate real estate leaders are coming to grips with the fact that CFO’s will no longer see huge savings in real estate budgets. Those savings, which materialized from a distressed market and densifying spaces, are clearly a thing of the past.
This is hard, because there is no one right answer for every organization. My admonition to you is to be thoughtful about creating new spaces in the future. They may need to be “agile” (read: changeable) over a 10-year or longer lease term.
Work with architects who can demonstrate they understand productivity-enhancing workplaces. Spend time with forward-thinking furniture purveyors who have real solutions. Make your building decisions with the end in mind.
The nickels we save on extreme real estate densification may well cost us many dollars in coming years.
⇧ George Osborne’s deficit reduction plan requires unprecedented binge in personal borrowing – Business News – Business – The Independent
The public will have to go on a £360bn borrowing binge to make George Osborne’s deficit reduction plans add up, an analysis by The Independent has found.
According to the small print in the latest report from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the public is forecast to add to its pile of unsecured lending, which includes credit card debt and bank overdrafts, by £360bn over the next five years.
If the public fails to spend, then growth would collapse and the Government’s deficit would be likely to start increasing again.
The £360bn figure represents a £41bn increase on the OBR’s forecasts just nine months ago and would take households’ unsecured lending, as a share of total household incomes, to a record 55 per cent by 2020. That would be well above even the pre-financial crisis unsecured debt ratio of 44 per cent.
⇧ Renters need more opportunities to build wealth – OC Housing News
Warning: one occurrence of blue-language in the linked article: Larry Roberts:
…the lesson of that debacle is not for individuals to avoid homeownership or for policy makers to devalue its importance.
Why not? I believe that is exactly the lesson individuals and policy makers must learn if we are to move toward a more stable housing market and retirement savings system.
The solution is to lift wages, not only with new policies like higher minimum wages and toughened labor standards, but also with approaches to managing the economy to ensure that a fair share of growth goes to wages and salaries, rather than going disproportionately to corporate profits.
They pull out the standard left-wing nonsense policy soundbites.
We agree with Larry’s first point but not at all with his second.
⇧ Typhoon Hagupit ALERT™ :: Event Summary
Barely a year since the region was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippines is bracing for the arrival of another major tropical cyclone. Typhoon Hagupit, known locally as Ruby, is now moving slowly but steadily westward toward the Philippines. The system has decreased slightly in intensity, but it is still a powerful storm and it is not forecast to weaken much more before making landfall. It is expected to reach the Eastern Visayas Region in the central Philippines late on Saturday evening local time, as a Violent Typhoon or Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
⇧ The Employment Situation – November 2014 | US Bureau of Labor Statistics
The real data:
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 2.8 million in November. These individuals accounted for 30.7 percent of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed declined by 1.2 million. (See table A-12.)
The civilian labor force participation rate held at 62.8 percent in November and has been essentially unchanged since April. The employment-population ratio, at 59.2 percent, was unchanged in November but is up by 0.6 percentage point over the year. (See table A-1.)
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers), at 6.9 million, changed little in November. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job. (See table A-8.)
In November, 2.1 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)
Among the marginally attached, there were 698,000 discouraged workers in November, little different from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.4 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in November had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for September was revised from +256,000 to +271,000, and the change for O ctober was revised from +214,000 to +243,000. With these revisions, employment gains in September and October combined were 44,000 more than previously reported.
⇧ Never Heard of the Winter Bomb? You’re in It – Bloomberg
As fall gives way to winter, meteorologists from the U.S. East Coast to the shores of Western Europe will be watching for signs that the next storm heading their way will turn into a bomb.
When working together at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980, Fred Sanders and John Gyakum codified the definition of a bomb as a storm in which the central barometric pressure drops by 24 millibars or more in 24 hours, Kocin said.
⇧ Water company blamed for Big Sur fire | Action News Now
The National Forest Service says a water company’s electrical wires started a fire that burned about three dozen homes in north-central California’s scenic Big Sur region.
⇧ Video shows suspect in recent Heidelberg fire – Washington Times
Surveillance cameras recorded a person pouring an accelerant into the rear of a house that’s part of the Heidelberg Project before setting it on fire, a spokeswoman for the outdoor art project said Wednesday.
“The good news is that our new security system caught the arsonist in the act,” Katie Hearn said in a news release.
⇧ Officials order Panasonic warehouse in Khon Kean closed for 90 days
The Provincial Industry Office in Khon Kean has ordered the warehouse belonging to Panasonic parts manufacturer that caught fire on Wednesday night closed for 90 days. According to the Office, the fire reportedly destroyed more than 50 percent of the building….
⇧ BBC News – Large fire destroys Smethwick industrial estate buildings
A “severe” fire has ripped through a West Midlands industrial estate, destroying a number of businesses.
At least five units housing electrical goods, clothes and stationery supplies were affected on the site in Smethwick.
A number of buildings are in danger of collapse.
West Midlands Fire Service is advising people in the area to keep their doors and windows shut because of smoke.
⇧ The U.K.’s “Mr. Austerity” Doubles Down – The New Yorker
Setting aside a few protected areas, such as the National Health Service, Osborne isn’t merely arresting the growth of government programs, which is what modest forms of austerity often amount to: he’s cutting them back, often drastically. “Between 2009-10 and 2019-20, spending on public services, administration and grants by central government is projected to fall from 21.2 per cent to 12.6 per cent of GDP and from £5,650 to £3,880 per head in 2014-15 prices,” the Office for Budget Responsibility wrote. That’s a cut of about third, and it has been concentrated on some of the least affluent members of British society, such as welfare recipients, low-paid workers, and people who use public services like libraries and drop-in centers. And, far from slackening the pace of the cuts, Osborne is looking to step them up during the next parliament, if the Conservatives win. Indeed, according to the O.B.R., fully sixty per cent of Osborne’s cuts are yet to come.
This isn’t just budget-cutting: it is social engineering on a grand scale. …
I’ve long said that Osborne isn’t merely, or even mainly, a deficit hawk. He’s a roll-back-the-government conservative who, in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008-2009, spotted a historic opportunity to complete the work that Margaret Thatcher began. …
… Despite his public protestations to the contrary, Osborne must surely have suspected that his spending cuts (and tax increases) would knock the economy back into a recession, which they duly did. But he was willing to take the gamble, and the political heat, in order to put Britain back on the path to smaller government that Thatcher had laid down.
If the Conservatives get reëlected and the British public sanctions another five years of austerity, Osborne will be able to declare victory in his g rand project. …
… While the experiment of employing two starkly different policies on either side of the Atlantic wasn’t a controlled trial, and the external circumstances of the U.S. and the U.K. differed, the results were far from a vindication of austerity measures. Orthodox—i.e., Keynesian—policies led to faster growth and a lower deficit.
… Osborne, despite his ongoing commitment to austerity, managed to engineer a stimulus in the housing market, which got house prices—a key driving force in the modern British economy—rising again. In his 2013 budget, Osborne launched a “Help to Buy” scheme, which enabled home buyers to borrow up to ninety-five per cent of the cost of a home, with the government guaranteeing their mortgages. In a country that has long been plagued by boom-and-bust cycles in real estate, this was a cynical move, but it was also a clever one.
Because the government’s financial commitment came in the form of loan guarantees, it didn’t have much impact on the budget deficit, and so the Iron Chancellor could claim that he hadn’t budged. And because mortgage rates were so low—less than two per cent, in some cases—the policy had a good chance of working. It did. By the end of last year, house prices were rising all across the country, and by this summer it was like old times, with the rate of inflation for houses hitting 12.4 per cent.
Some of Osborne’s supporters would have you believe that he has overturned the precepts of mainstream economics and proved that fiscal contractions can boost growth. He’s done no such thing. For the first three years after he took office, growth was dismal or non-existent. In the past couple years, he has shown that highly expansionary monetary policy, if it is combined with a concerted effort to ramp up house prices, can eventually offset some of the impacts of austerity policies. That’s an achievement of sorts, but not one he’s keen to advertise.
George Osborne’s plan will fail miserably. He’ll be fine with that because it’s his job to further enrich the rich while further impoverishing the poor. It’s actually a class struggle, and George his being paid to do his job for the Upper Class keeping the masses in their place where they belong: subservient.
⇧ The Fed and ECB differ sharply on the oil shock | Gavyn Davies
It seems undeniable that the major changes in the supply/demand balance in the oil market in recent years have come from the increase in “tight oil” supplies in non-Opec countries, especially via fracking in the US. Previously these changes were offset by declining supply from Libya, Iran and Iraq, but this year these declines have been partially reversed. This, along with the decision of Saudi Arabia to maintain production largely unchanged, has increased global oil supply markedly, leading to rising inventories compared to seasonal norms.
At the Fed, this is viewed as a standard oil supply shock that will temporarily reduce headline consumer price inflation, and simultaneously increase real gross domestic product growth. Because the US is a major oil producer, there might be some offsets to the gains to real GDP as investment falls in the fracking regions. But according to Bill Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the US economy will gain overall, implying that the correct setting for monetary policy might be tighter, not looser, as a result of the oil shock.
“…according to Bill Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the US economy will gain overall….” We’ll be borrowing much more in the private sector to do it if it happens. That’s not good in the longer run. We need to get off oil and interest both. They’re both deadly systems.
⇧ Robert’s Stochastic thoughts: Vulgar Marxism
…politicians refrain from recommending that the middle class fight back in the class war, because their respect for the subcultures norms that this must not be done is even stronger than their desire to win elections. Also, and very importantlly, journalists do not inform the public about current US tax policy, proposed reforms (and where the parties stand) or about where the US Federal budget is spent (hint not foreign aid). I think most of them are generally inclined to inform the public, but I wonder if their fear of unleashing the raging lower 95% (which would hurt the 96-99 percentiles while aiming for the top 1%) is stronger than their desire to do their job (and really I don’t doubt that most journalists would, in general and if class interests are involved, prefer that the public be informed).
“…hurt the 96-99 percentiles….” No, it would be the 2-4% just below the 1% at the top. Anyway, it’s not so much the 1% as the 0.01%. People in the Upper Class below that level all do the bidding of the 0.01%.
⇧ Lies led to millions lost in real estate scam | News – Home
Due diligence required up front:
“At some point, he started realizing he wasn’t going to be able to sell the apartments at enough of an income to support his debt,” said Henderson.
But instead of telling investors, authorities said he chose to falsify documents. If investors asked questions, Evans simply lied.
⇧ China’s Hunt For Overseas Real Estate Yield — Barron’s Asia – NASDAQ.com
The Chinese government only allows individuals to invest the equivalent of US$50,000 a year overseas in any type of investment, although it does appear the People’s Bank of China would like to see this limit relaxed for “qualified” individuals working in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, according to a summary of suggestions the PBOC made to China’sState Council a year ago.
For now, investors may use indirect channels such as the Qualified Domestic Institutional Investors (QDII) program, according to Cushman & Wakefield. Some wealthy individuals also buy real estate through offshore companies, whether their own company or in a structure that includes other shareholders, says Neil Brookes, Knight Frank’s Asia Pacific head of capital markets.
The Chinese government also has their back. Beijing is actively encouraging the real estate splurge by easing regulations around overseas investments, partly as a way to shed foreign currency reserves and to allow Chinese companies to diversify their portfolio of investments beyond China, he says.
But while China’s wealthy will gravitate to cities they know, or where their children are going to college, they also may start to consider investing in so-called secondary cities that offer the promise of greater price appreciation as economies recover.
The reason, Knight Frank says, is that spreads between prime office property yields and 10-year government bonds in the most popular gateway cities have narrowed, meaning they are offering relatively lower returns. Many other cities – including Frankfurt, Madrid, Houston, Washington, Perth and Brisbane – now present investors with a larger spread than London, New York or Sydney.
What kind of debts do they have at home in China? If China pops (or when it pops), will they sell their foreign holdings to pay their debts in China or will they have hidden their foreign holdings?
⇧ County looks to clean up derelict properties with federal grant
Bamberg County Council is taking a proactive stance in cleaning up derelict properties through its involvement in the federal grant Neighborhood Initiative Program.
NIP is designed to stabilize property values by removing and “greening” vacant and abandoned properties in targeted areas, with funding strategically targeting residential demolition in designated areas.
County Administrator Joey Preston said at Bamberg County Council’s meeting Monday night the county is working with South Carolina Regional Housing Authority No. 3 to secure a portion of the $6.7 million in NIP funds available the Pee Dee/Sandhills region, including Bamberg County.
⇧ Real Estate Decisions Reflect Personality | Psych Central News
“This research falls within the scope of a much larger discussion in the social sciences in general, and in economics in particular, about what constitutes decision-making: the rational view versus that affected by emotional and cognitive biases,” said Dr. Ben-Shahar.
“My work shows that people in the real estate framework act ‘irrationally,’ as economists say, and not according to traditional economic assumptions.”
The results showed a clear link between personality and real estate decisions. Neurotic people, for example, prefer homeownership over renting. When they do buy, they opt for a mortgage with a lower “loan-to-value” (LTV) ratio, which means the loan amount is low compared to the price of the home.
So, the “neurotic” types didn’t go as far under water from the housing crash.
A certain amount of anxiety keeps us from doing reckless things without becoming unable to function.
⇧ Peter Temin: Lessons from the Great Depression – YouTube
George Santayana once wrote that those who could not remember the past were condemned to repeat it. And looking at today’s policy makers at work seeking to combat the huge challenge of unemployment in the aftermath of the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, it appears that there is a lot of collective amnesia evident amongst this crowd.
The parallels with the mistakes of the 1930s echo. Peter Temin, currently Gray Professor Emeritus of Economics, MIT, and former head of their Economics Department, has written extensively about the Great Depression.