Linking ≠ endorsement.
⇧ Newcomers Outpace New Housing in Least Rental Affordable Markets | Zillow Blog
We have to hand it to Zillow. They aren’t just hyping to sell houses. We think they really do care about the lack of affordable rentals. Of course, that’s smart business too. Nice report by Melissa Allison:
Waves of new residents are outpacing new housing stock in the country’s least affordable rental markets, according to a Zillow analysis of U.S. rental and mortgage affordability.
In Los Angeles, where renters spend an average of 48.2 percent of their monthly income on rent, only 187 new housing units were added for every 1,000 new arrivals between 2012 and 2013. In New York, it was 383 per 1,000 newcomers, and in San Francisco, it was just 193.
We think governments must step in. Major cities can’t do a good job while forcing all of the working class out and into depressed suburbs only to have to commute to fill jobs servicing the rich in so-called gentrified city centers.
⇧ House/Senate bills would protect insurance policy holders from being forced to bailout financial firms – Dodd-Frank News Center
…the Policyholder Protection Act (H.R. 1478, S. 798), bipartisan legislation to ensure that your personal insurance policies won’t be raided to prop-up failing financial institutions.
We fully support this concept and look forward to more in-depth reporting on it to come.
⇧ If you want to know why TTIP would be a nightmare, look what just happened in Canada | Global Justice Now
You’re a landlord, manager, or tenant. Do you want foreign corporations being able to stop local laws designed to protect your asset, position, or housing from environmental damage and loss?
How can this ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement) system be government of, by, and for the people rather than foreign corporations?
The European Commission is keen to tell us that they are reforming the corporate court procedure for TTIP, so there’s no need to worry. But from what we’ve seen of such reforms to date, they may actually make matters worse.
The problems are 1) the whole thing is being handled in secret and 2) the White House is pushing to fast-track the legislation so there won’t be debate on it and so the vote will be up or down (no amendments).
⇧ Shadow banking morphs and grows, confounding authority | Reuters
…shadow banking continues to grow, as credit from traditional banks has shrunk in the face of tougher rules on lending quality and capital requirements. The sector reached $75 trillion in 2013, up $5 trillion on the year before, according to G20 figures.
Part of the problem is that today’s shadow banking sector is not the same as it was back during the crisis, Alder said.
New players such as asset managers have become lenders, as they hunt for yield in a low interest rate environment.
“We actually have a much bigger challenge on our hands now than we had in 2008.”
Yes, and as far as we’re concerned, the financial industry has been dragging its feet in dealing with it. It should not be allowed. The economic systemic-risks are enormous.
⇧ Storms Sweep Through Oklahoma with Tornadoes, Hail
We were warned that this would happen. The winter lull would end. It did so nearly on cue.
Oklahoma Attorney General Pruitt announced that Oklahoma’s Emergency Price Stabilization Act is now in effect for 25 Oklahoma counties after Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency due to tornadoes, severe storms, straight-line winds and flooding that hit the state on March 25.
⇧ Marshalltown property owner wants compensation for SWAT team damage
A Marshalltown man says the city should pay for the damage to his rental property which was caused by a police department SWAT team during its failed search for a murder suspect.
If you’re wondering why he didn’t file a claim with his insurance carrier and that carrier go after the city, it may be due to a governmental-action exclusion in his policy.
⇧ Big Melt Will Start Liberating Boston From Its Record Snowpack – Bloomberg Business
There is a chance that the rain combined with the melting snow will push some rivers close to flood stage, Horwood said. That will be especially true for the Merrimack River north of Boston and the Hoosic and Housatonic rivers in western Massachusetts.
⇧ Bill moves ahead to protect residents from fracking damage
Sen. Robert Zirkin, D-Baltimore County, said that despite the shorter time frame of 21 years to six years for liability insurance, the bill still retains two important aspects: The drilling companies would be held strictly liable for injuries to residents or their property, and in the case of legal action companies would have to disclose what chemicals they use for drilling and not use “trade secrets” as an excuse for failing to reveal information.
Considering we’re talking about altered underground geology, we don’t think the 21-year requirement should be reduced.
⇧ Middle Class Political Economist: Wikileaks Releases Trans-Pacific Partnership Investment Chapter
Here’s some more on the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) issue.
Despite its neutral-sounding name, ISDS is actually a radical concept. Instead of using the courts to settle disputes, which have appeals procedures and build up case law via precedent, ISDS allows companies to take governments to arbitration, where neither precedent nor appeals exist.
⇧ Resource Constraints Test Financial Policy Makers Coping with “Regulatory Tsunami” | Market Integrity Insights
Global regulators are grappling with a problem of unexpected size. It’s not merely the number of technical standards they need to transcribe, but something more palpable: the lack of manpower. The heads of unit in several European Union market regulators are bemoaning the fact that while lawmakers are creating new rules to make the financial markets safer and more transparent, the authorities mandated to draft the rules simply do not have enough staff to do the work needed.
When national governments do see the need for enhanced regulation in the transnational financial markets, they should empower these transnational organisations with sufficient manpower and funding to succeed. After all, it is in everyone’s interest to create appropriate standards to support safer and more transparent financial markets across the globe.
It’s very shortsighted not to create the additional currency to pay for needed larger staffs. The work is part of GDP and the money will circulate in the economy without creating inflation provided the agencies aren’t overly staffed over the long run.
⇧ Can Government spending Encourage Entrepreneurship? | Let’s Talk Development
Government, per se, isn’t the problem.
A fairly robust finding is that total government spending is negatively correlated with entrepreneurship. The proposed rationale for this relationship falls under either one of two categories. The first is that government spending is a proxy for government size. Under this scenario high level of government spending implies high levels of government involvement both in terms of burdensome regulations and crowding out of the private sector; both factors considered to be detrimental towards entrepreneurship. The second hypothesis is that total government spending goes hand in hand with high levels of social welfare spending. High levels of welfare spending may provide safety nets for potential entrepreneurs, effectively raising the opportunity cost of entrepreneurship, thus discouraging entrepreneurship.
I find that when social and public good spending is increased at the cost of other spending such as private subsidies, there is an increase in entrepreneurial activity. These results are robust to a variety of individual and economy-wide controls, as well as different time period lags of the government spending variables. Further disaggregation of social and public good spending shows positive associations between all the components of social and public good spending and entrepreneurship although only health and education spending is statistically significant.
⇧ How Much Does Los Angeles Have to Build to Get Out of Its Housing Crisis? – Unaffordable Housing – Curbed LA
This is a good follow-up to the Zillow article above about affordable housing.
California is a beautiful and desirable place to live, but it’s also one of the hardest places to afford to live. Los Angeles is particularly brutal: it’s got the biggest disconnect between incomes and rents of anywhere in the nation, and it’s the place to be if you’re looking to have your dreams of homeownership crushed. Is there any hope? A new report out from the Legislative Analyst’s Office shows that the groundwork for LA’s housing shortage was laid a long time ago, and it’s going to be hard work undoing it.
In order to keep housing prices in check, California overall would have had to build more (70,000 to 110,000 additional units each year), build denser, and build especially in the coastal areas (including Los Angeles) and central cities (as opposed to building mostly inland and in areas way outside of cities as has been done in the past). California also should have been doing this for decades already. Because it didn’t, “the state probably would have to build as many as 100,000 additional units annually—almost exclusively in its coastal communities—to seriously mitigate its problems with housing affordability.” And that’s in addition to the 100,000 to 140,000 units that the Golden State is already planning to build.
However, if California doesn’t get its water act together, people will be forced to leave.
⇧ Everyone Living in Hollywood’s Sunset and Gordon Tower Has to Move Out – Arrested Development – Curbed LA
The first inkling that tenants at the Sunset and Gordon luxury apartment tower in Hollywood might want to start looking for a new place to live came this past October, when a judge invalidated the project’s construction permits in response to a NIMBY lawsuit. Now, it’s official: those tenants have got to go, reports the LA Times. The tower’s temporary occupancy certificate has expired and the LA Department of Building and Safety won’t renew it unless the project goes through a whole new environmental review process and gets new approvals. That means those renters are out of a home.
⇧ Strong Dollar’s Drag on Prices Will Not Cause Deflation, Cleveland Fed Economists Say – Real Time Economics – WSJ
Pedro Nicolaci da Costa:
Federal Reserve officials have flagged the possibility a stronger dollar will put downward pressure on U.S. inflation through import prices, but a new paper from the Cleveland Fed finds the impact should be fairly minor.
Down is down, and the Fed wants up before it raises rates and only then after wages are up and unemployment is down and the slack is gone enough.
⇧ Deescalating Europe’s Politics of Resentment by Yanis Varoufakis – Project Syndicate
Considering everything that has transpired lately concerning Greece, this is very measured and mature commentary from Yanis Varoufakis.
…European citizens should have demanded that their governments refuse even to consider transferring private losses to them. But they failed to do so, and the transfer was effected soon after.
He’s absolutely right about that.
Most importantly, Greece is under a new government, a government that was not responsible at all for the current mess, a government that wants to clean up the mess in a win-win for the whole of Europe, obviously including for Germany.
The Greek leadership wants to tone down the language aimed at Germany, but we don’t have to do that.
The real obstacle right now really does remain Germany.
Angela Merkel simply must rescue the Greek people. She needs to be the mother of Europe right now. Anything short of that isn’t going to work.
Germany is mistaken if it thinks it can’t afford it. It can’t afford not to do it.
Europe can create the euros Greece needs.
The Greeks are being completely reasonable.
⇧ The Labor Market Conundrum: The Cyclical and the Secular | BlackRock Blog | Global Market Intelligence
The problem is: Once you leave the workforce, it’s proving difficult to re-enter. There are several explanations for this, ranging from a mismatch of skills to the disincentives associated with loosening the criteria for long-term unemployment insurance. What is clear is that very few of these individuals are being lured back to work despite the stellar pace of job growth.
On the wage front, there are many different factors at work. Although we’re creating lots of jobs, more of them are now part-time. The greater mix of part-time workers, most of whom receive lower wages, is dampening average hourly wages. But by far, the biggest factors are long-term. A combination of disruptive technology, global wage arbitrage (moving jobs overseas) and slower productivity growth has doggedly held wages back, not just in the United States, but also in most developed countries.
⇧ In Texas Oil Towns, Price-Crash Shows Up in Slowing Rent Growth – Real Time Economics – WSJ
Since the end of last year, energy companies have announced hefty reductions in capital spending, and major layoffs. Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas this month said falling oil prices have been responsible for 39,621 job cuts in the first two months of the year, more than one-third of all nationwide workforce reductions in that period.
That’s been rippling through the economy, with new evidence showing rental markets are taking a hit.
⇧ The Rise of Discouraged Workers | CEPR Blog
Americans who fall into the group known as “discouraged workers” seem to be facing especially tough circumstances. These are people who were previously classified as “unemployed” but became so discouraged by their job prospects that they completely gave up the search for employment.
It’s well known that during the recession, unemployment and other forms of joblessness went up. But what’s rarely mentioned in public discourse is that the number of discouraged workers didn’t just increase; it actually shot up far more significantly than other forms of joblessness. …
…policymakers should place job creation front and center when crafting economic policy. You often hear members of Congress worrying about rising deficits, even though the deficit is falling; others talk about the risks of rising inflation, even though inflation is falling from already historic lows.
We completely agree.
⇧ Court decision ends privatization of water in Jakarta | The Jakarta Post
The privatization of Jakarta’s water, which has spanned 17 years, has come to an end as judges at the Central Jakarta District Court have approved a lawsuit from the Coalition of Jakarta Residents Opposing Water Privatization.
We strongly oppose water privatization. We like it that the court referred to water as a human right.
⇧ Fed Shouldn’t Raise Rates Yet Because Job Market Still Ailing, Paper Says – Real Time Economics – WSJ
Pedro Nicolaci da Costa:
David Blanchflower, a Dartmouth College economics professor and former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, teams up with Andrew Levin, an ex-Fed board economist now at the International Monetary Fund, to argue that the U.S. employment outlook is much weaker than indicated by the 5.5% jobless rate registered in February.
“Underemployment and hidden unemployment currently account for the bulk of the U.S. employment gap,” which the authors estimate to be around 3.3 million jobs when new entrants into the labor market are included.
Their findings exactly support what we’ve been saying all along. We’re glad that such voices are being heard and published. We also strongly suspect that Janet Yellen is on board with holding off.
⇧ The Troika’s Leverage Over Greece: The Ongoing Bank Run | naked capitalism
Yves Smith doesn’t believe in sugarcoating.
Recall that in the talks over the memorandum between the Eurogroup and Greece last month, the final text did not come out of a negotiation. While Greece did submit draft language, the final version was dictated to Greece. The text was finalized without Varoufakis’ input, and Tsipras was presented with a “take it or leave it” version (one account said he signed the draft presented to him; another stated that Tsipras was permitted to change one word). That is not a negotiation. That is a diktat. And Greece has tried to deny that the text says what the Troika intended it to say (and how I also read it): that the hated existing structural reforms are in place. Greece may be allowed to negotiate substitutions that have no negative fiscal impact, and will hopefully be allowed to implement humanitarian relief (Varoufakis stated that that was agreed, but there hasn’t been much said either way by the creditors*).
… Bear in mind that any decision by the ECB to withdraw support would be no more an accident than the US refusal to backstop Lehman trading positions while Barclays got approval to buy the troubled firm. That decision was what left Lehman with no option other than to file bankruptcy. Paulson, Bernanke, and Geithner were under no illusion as to what the result would be. With the benefit of hindsight, they might deem it to be a mistake. But they’ve never tried pretending it was an accident. By contrast, the “accidental Grexit” meme in the media looks like an effort to pre-plant a narrative if the impasse continues and the powers that be decide the cost of letting Greece go is lower than the cost of the variances they insist on, given that Spain, France, Portugal and Ireland would also want the same breaks.
Mind you, Greece’s body language for the moment is that it will submit to the reform negotiation process. But we’ve had Greece buck the traces before. However, the threat of execution at dawn w onderfully focuses the mind. And Greece’s cash scramble and the resumption of its bank run shows that an endgame of some sort is approaching.
⇧ Why Greek default looms – BBC News
Robert Peston reads Varoufakis’s latest article only in a negative light. However, we think he has sized up Tsipras correctly.
Mr Tsipras makes it clear that if presented with a choice between failing to pay international creditors, including the IMF, and paying them but not Greek public servants, he will choose the first category of default.
Which would not be the same as leaving the eurozone, but Grexit would not be more than half a hop away – because default on the sovereign debts would represent abject failure of attempts to revive the Greek economy from inside the currency union.
⇧ Japan Feb jobless rate down, jobs availability at over 20-yr high, Government & Economy – THE BUSINESS TIMES
The availability of jobs in Japan rose to the highest in more than 20 years….
That’s on top of the mistake Japan made when it raised the sales tax too. Who says Keynesianism doesn’t work? Of course it does.
It’s true that if every nation engages in massive QE (Keynes was heavy on fiscal spending during a recession/depression), it constitutes a global currency war; but believe it or not, all nations can stimulate and grow at the same time.
⇧ Seven dead as devastating floods hit Chile – YouTube
The heaviest rains to hit Chile in 80 years have left at least seven people dead and many more missing.
The extreme weather has caused widespread destruction and flooding in the country’s north.
Towns have been overwhelmed and roads cut off.
⇧ Author Scott Westerfeld captures dramatic footage after New York gas explosion – YouTube
An major explosion in New York’s East Village has injured around 20 people and caused the collapse of two apartment buildings. At least four of the injured were in critical condition.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the blast appeared to have been caused by gas work inside one of the buildings.
He said gas and plumbing repair work had been underway, and that utility inspectors had been on the scene about an hour before the explosion and found the work did not pass inspection.
⇧ Proposed Cuts Could Boot 12 Million People off Food Stamps | TakePart
How many of your affordable-housing tenants receive SNAP food benefits that were those benefits to be cut, it would place those tenants at serious risk and possibly unable to continue renting from you? How many of them work or are unable to?
…the House…hopes to slash the food stamp program once again in a budget passed on Wednesday that would cut the program’s funding by more than a third—$125 billion—between 2021 and 2025.
While the size of the SNAP budget remains a significant portion of the farm bill—80 percent—there is extensive evidence that the program works. According to the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities report, food stamps kept 4.8 million people living above the poverty line in 2013. On the cash side of the socioeconomic impact of the program, each SNAP dollar spent has been shown to generate nearly twice as much economic activity, and the long-term benefits of good nutrition represent a significant boon, especially for children. According to the Urban Child Institute, if a kid is food-insecure between infancy and the age of three, he or she has a 76 percent greater chance of having behavioral, cognitive, or language development problems.
The idea that the US cannot afford to feed its people, all of them, is either 1) ignorance about where money comes from and how much of it should be created and placed in circulation and for what or 2) by malignant design or 3) both.
⇧ Rossby: Gulf Stream is Not Slowing
In our March 26th issue, we reported on this Gulf Stream topic: https://propertypak.com/2015/03/26/news- real-estate-risk-economics-mar-26-2015/# 0326152
Here’s more info. However, we haven’t dug into any replies to this one.
Several recent studies have generated a great deal of publicity for their claims that the warming climate is slowing the pace of the Gulf Stream. They say that the Gulf Stream is decreasing in strength as a result of rising sea levels along the East Coast. However, none of the studies includes any direct measurements of the current over an extended period to prove their point.
⇧ Virginia DEQ to monitor water in Danville | Southern Virginia Area News – WDBJ7.com Central and Southwest VA
If your tenants detect strange smelling or looking water, ask them to report to your manager or to you (if you are the manager) and to the water supplier.
If the water-supply pipes are going to be worked on where the water will need to be run for a while to flush any contamination, notify your tenants ahead of time so they’ll know what to do, when not to run or use the water, etc.
Be mindful of shut-ins who may not check for notices posted on exterior doors.
Be sure you have up-to-date phone numbers.
“Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will continue to work closely with the City of Danville and others as we attempt to find the cause of algae resulting in drinking water problems from the Dan River and to identify potential solutions,” Paylor said Wednesday.
The city requested the state agency’s assistance following the re-emergence of an earthy, musty odor and taste in the water on Friday. Since then, city water plant operators have been adding powdered activated carbon to the treatment process. The carbon absorbs the algae and then is removed from the water.
On Wednesday, operators no longer could detect the odor in the raw water and the taste and odor in the treated water. They will continue feeding carbon indefinitely, however, as a precautionary measure.
⇧ Oklahoma Commissioner: Severe Weather Damaged at Least 1,100 Insured Homes
Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak announced that more than 1,100 homeowners insurance claims have already been filed following severe weather that marched across the state on Wednesday, March 25.
⇧ How long commutes worsen inequality – CBS News
This ties in nicely with our comment above on the Zillow article: “Newcomers Outpace New Housing in Least Rental Affordable Markets | Zillow Blog.”
The whole article is worth reading, but here’s an excerpt. Mark Thoma:
How have commuting times been changing in recent years? Do typical households live closer to their workplaces than in the past, or farther away? A recent study from Elizabeth Kneebone and Natalie Holmes of the Brookings Institution looked at such questions and found:
• Between 2000 and 2012, the number of jobs within the typical commuting distance for residents in a major metro area fell by 7 percent.
• As employment suburbanized, the number of jobs near both the typical city and suburban resident fell.
• As poor and minority residents shifted toward suburbs in the 2000s, their proximity to jobs fell more than for nonpoor and white residents.
• Residents of high-poverty and mainly minority neighborhoods experienced particularly pronounced declines in job proximity.
The results were even worse for low-income and minority households. According to the results, The number of jobs near the typical Hispanic (-17 percent) and black (-14 percent) resident in major metro areas declined much more steeply than for white (-6 percent) residents, a pattern repeated for the typical poor (-17 percent) versus nonpoor (-6 percent) resident.
⇧ The myth of Europe’s Little Ice Age | VOX, CEPR’s Policy Portal
We’ll be watching for the rebuttals.
Morgan Kelly, Cormac Ó Gráda:
While the idea that Europe experienced a Little Ice Age is widespread, its statistical basis is at best exiguous, and appears to stem from inappropriate efforts to smooth data that are actually random. At the same time, most of the anecdotal evidence admits more simple explanations than climate change.
That won’t sit well with those who claim Anthropogenic Global Warming isn’t happening.
Not only that, it’s written by economists. As a rule though, they typically know how to deal with stats.
⇧ Piketty’s Three Big Mistakes – Bloomberg View
If you’re a landlord or want to be or are dependent upon one or more for your earnings, you need to be aware that the Henry George tax is being discussed more and more and more.
We actually don’t like it. That’s because people work for the money to buy the property and they may not want to be “productive” with it, which should be their right (unless we have full land-reform where the land becomes the commons again: publicly owned).
That said, we sympathize with George’s concern about the masses, which we share. We’d just go about correcting things differently, as we’ve outline on this blog many times.
Rognlie’s results, and the theory of agglomeration economies, suggest that to fight wealth inequality, what we really need to do isn’t to redistribute income from corporations, but to redistribute income from land. How do we do that? Well, allowing more development in urban areas is a good start. But the real weapon here is the Henry George tax, or land value tax (LVT).
From the Wikipedia:
George considered it a great injustice that private profit was being earned from restricting access to natural resources while productive activity was burdened with heavy taxes, and indicated that such a system was equivalent to slavery — a concept somewhat similar to wage slavery.
⇧ How to buy investment property with little money down – YouTube
Various ways on how to buy real estate with less than 20 percent down as an investor.
⇧ A Strong Welfare State Produces More Entrepeneurs — The Atlantic
This article gels nicely with these articles above:
• “Can Government spending Encourage Entrepreneurship? | Let’s Talk Development”
• “Proposed Cuts Could Boot 12 Million People off Food Stamps | TakePart”
• “How long commutes worsen inequality – CBS News”
In 1988, Ronald Reagan traveled to the Soviet Union and gave a speech at Moscow State University, making the case for capitalism. America’s secret, he argued, was its entrepreneurs, whose “courage to take risks” was responsible “for almost all the economic growth in the United States” and much of its technological edge. This risk-taking was made possible, he continued, by economic freedom, which he associated with “limited, unintrusive” government.
Reagan was right about the link between startups and growth, but wrong in assuming that small government was the way to encourage them.
His belief in a tradeoff between taking care of citizens and promoting innovative new businesses is at odds with the evidence. In fact, one way to get more people to start companies, according to a growing body of research, is to expand the welfare state.
Reagan put forth ideology over statistical evidence. “Facts are stupid things” is attributed to him. Though that statement can be taken in more than one way.
⇧ North Dakota’s Jobless Rate Is the Lowest No Longer – Real Time Economics – WSJ
Pedro Nicolaci da Costa:
For the first time since the depths of the U.S. financial crisis, North Dakota no longer boasts the nation’s lowest jobless rate, a potential hint of trouble for energy-rich states bolstered by an oil boom that has since gone bust.
Oil prices went up due to the Saudis attacking Yemen. How long that conflict will last remains to be seen. Egypt is reportedly to join the Saudis in a planned ground invasion.
⇧ Economists call on the ECB to make ‘Quantitative Easing for the people’
This is a great move. We’ve linked to a number of articles by a hand full of the signatories.
A letter published today in the Financial Times signed by 19 economists, including BIEN co-founder Guy Standing, calls on the European Central Bank to adopt an alternative quantitative easing policy. The letter includes a call to distribute cash directly to citizens of the eurozone.
It’s demand-side economics and really would be better than what the ECB is doing.