Linking ≠ endorsement.
⇧ NASA | Global Landslide Catalog Aids View From Space – YouTube
Landslides are among the most common and dramatic natural hazards, reshaping landscapes — and anything in their path. Tracking when and where landslides occur worldwide has historically been difficult, because of the lack of a centralized database across all nations. But NASA researchers have updated the first publicly available Global Landslide Catalog, based on media reports and online databases that bring together many sources of information on landslides that have occurred since 2007. The catalog, originally released in 2010, is still the only one of its kind.
Around 6000 landslides are noted in the catalog. This wealth of data gives scientists a starting point to analyze where, how and why landslides are likely to occur. In particular, NASA researchers have begun to compare landslide occurrence with global rainfall data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission.
⇧ Obama to Get “Fast Track” for Trade Pacts – YouTube
If you wonder why so many people absolutely hate the idea of fast tracking the TTIP and TPP, watch this video.
Kevin Zeeze, Co-Director of Popular Resistance says fast track for trade pacts is complete capitulation to global corporate rule, we have to stop it now.
We stand adamantly opposed to granting President Barack Obama fast-track authority for these secretly negotiated trade deals.
We need sunshine concerning these proposed deals. We, the citizenry of the United States, need to be able to read the proposals in full and with plenty of time to openly debate and discuss them, to publish what we think of them, etc.
Anything less would be pseudo-democracy at best.
⇧ TPP: The Dirtiest Trade Deal You’ve Never Heard Of – YouTube
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could cost us our internet freedom, labor rights, access to affordable medicine, the safety of our food, and protections that keep our water and air clean.
⇧ Senator Elizabeth Warren – The Unfinished Business of Financial Reform – YouTube
We are pro-regulations (good regulations, good government), not anarchy.
This speech by Elizabeth Warren is an excellent follow-up to the TTP/TTIP videos above.
She mentioned “crony capitalism,” and she’s absolutely right about that.
However, as you may have already determined, if the fast track gets pushed through and President Obama gets the TTP and TTIP with the draconian aspects in them that have been leaked (assuming they are as have been leaked), then all the things, all the sensible regulations, Senator Warren discussed will be moot.
The global corporatocracy (ultimately under the thumb of the global plutocrats) will be a done deal. Democracy would be subservient at best. Only revolutions would unseat it.
This is not an endorsement of all things Elizabeth Warren.
Senator Elizabeth Warren’s speech at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College’s 24th Annual Hyman P. Minsky Conference on the unfinished business of financial reform and regulation of financial markets. April 15, 2015.
⇧ mainly macro: Osborne’s failure
…the macroeconomic risks were understood, but were put to one side for political and ideological reasons. …austerity was a means of implementing an unpopular policy of reducing the size of the state by the back door.
Do you think Simon Wren-Lewis has been reading our commentary? Well, whether or not he has, he’s caught on to what we’ve been saying for many, many years. That’s not to toot our own horn. That’s to say, “Right On!” We need people just like Simon speaking the truth so the masses will also catch on. Simon is in a perfect position to instruct up and coming economists (students). They’re the ones who will right the wrongs, not the current generation in power.
Will the Tories target Simon now? If they do, you’ll know why. If they do, he’ll need to double down on what he’s saying rather than get weak-kneed and cave in.
Hang in there Simon. Don’t let them intimidate you.
⇧ Five reasons the rich like real estate to boost their savings — and 15 other thrifty tips | Financial Post
Income Generation After building and other expenses are paid, any remaining cash from the tenants’ rent is passed on to owners and investors, which may provide a source of stable, supplemental income.
Wealth Preservation High-net-worth investors’ primary goal is often wealth preservation as opposed to growth. “Commercial property is one of the best investments to achieve wealth preservation because it is a long-term investment,” Crenian says.
Inflation protection Real estate, like everything else, has its ups and downs, but Crenian notes it is generally a lot slower to react than the stock market. You are unlikely to wake up and discover that your real estate investment is worth 10% or 20% less than yesterday.
Tax advantages Commercial rental property offers different tax advantages than residential property since you can deduct items such as a building, furniture or equipment. You can also entitled to a capital cost allowance deduction, which allows you to deduct the cost of the property over a period of several years.
Investor Control Unlike stocks and bonds, investors have some control over the value of real estate assets by either improving the property, decreasing costs or increasing rents and fees. “With stocks or any other investment, the investor can’t do anything to increase the value of the investment,” Crenian says.
Well, do your homework first. That’s what all the successful real-estate investors typically did.
⇧ Dani Rodrik’s weblog: Turkish economic myths
Private sector debt crises have a way of engulfing the entire economy, and largely as a consequence, unmanageable private debts tend to find their way onto the public balance sheet.
The bottom line is that the AKP government did not make any fundamental changes in economic strategy. It simply gave Turkey’s traditional macroeconomic populism a modern makeover, by relying more on foreign capital markets and by boosting private expenditures. Neither of these changes rendered Turkish growth healthier or more sustainable.
⇧ Russian investors increase search for ‘safe haven’ property assets – The Investor
What we think this article is missing is that the Russian economy is transitioning away from being so dependent on imports and toward producing more at home. Therefore, more money could stay right there in Russia to ramp up that production. Keeping the rubles at home rather than converting them abroad will also allow those who do keep the money in Russia to ride the ruble back up again. That will be especially true if sanctions are lifted but also as the new Chinese and Asian banks ramp up too.
⇧ Evicted and Abandoned: The World Bank’s Broken Promise to the Poor | International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
Evicted and Abandoned is a global investigation that reveals how the World Bank Group, the powerful development lender committed to ending poverty, has regularly failed to follow its own rules for protecting vulnerable populations.
⇧ The Machines Are Coming – NYTimes.com
Optimists insist that we’ve been here before, during the Industrial Revolution, when machinery replaced manual labor, and all we need is a little more education and better skills. But that is not a sufficient answer. One historical example is no guarantee of future events, and we won’t be able to compete by trying to stay one step ahead in a losing battle.
This cannot just be about machines’ capabilities or human skills, since the true solution lies in neither. Confronting the threat posed by machines, and the way in which the great data harvest has made them ever more able to compete with human workers, must be about our priorities.
It’s easy to imagine an alternate future where advanced machine capabilities are used to empower more of us, rather than control most of us. There will potentially be more time, resources and freedom to share, but only if we change how we do things. We don’t need to reject or blame technology. This problem is not us versus the machines, but between us, as humans, and how we value one another.
Well, the article is one of the better ones we’ve read on the subject, but it still doesn’t quite get it in our view. The “machines” are going to free us up if we value one another enough to stop forcing each other to have to work for compensation to pay for necessities and for a high standard of living and for a high quality of life.
In other words, since the owners of the means of production won’t have anyone to whom to sell anything if everyone else is put out of a job and doesn’t have an income, it follows that the production by the machines needs to be democratized. All the people must decide together with each person having an equal say and vote rather than those with the most money making the decisions. In other words, neoclassical capitalism really isn’t the final economic system.
⇧ Surprise monetary tightening expands shadow banking | VOX, CEPR’s Policy Portal
Benjamin Nelson, Gabor Pinter, and Konstantinos Theodoridis:
…a monetary contraction aimed at reducing the asset growth of commercial banks would tend to cause a migration of activity beyond the regulatory perimeter to the shadow banking sector. The monetary response needed to lean against shadow bank asset growth is of opposite sign to that needed to lean against commercial bank asset growth. That casts doubt on the ease with which monetary policy could be used in this way.
That reinforces the case made elsewhere (eg Hanson et al. 2011) for the development of macroprudential tools that address the build-up of leverage in the regulated sector more directly than monetary policy, and which extend oversight to the parts of the shadow banking sector that are most prone to excessive risk-taking (see Financial Stability Board (FSB 2013)).
⇧ Quicken Loans, the Nation’s Largest FHA Lender, Sues United States Department of Justice…
This will be interested to watch.
Quicken Loans has provided the DOJ with more than 85,000 documents, including 55,000 emails. In addition, the DOJ has conducted hundreds of hours of depositions from numerous Quicken Loans team members. Three years later, the DOJ inquiry has resulted in the threat of a federal lawsuit based on faulty analysis of a miniscule number of cherry picked mortgages from the nearly 250,000 FHA loans the company has closed since 2007.
⇧ Confronting big economic challenges | McKinsey & Company
Europe, in the south, is not structurally flexible, you know, and it’s really having trouble adapting to these very powerful forces. We’re heading for a world in which the vast majority of economies, even developing ones, are going to be services, or services and construction. And that’s just a very different world. And it requires flexibility to get there. And I think the point that is probably worth emphasizing is that it’s possible to resist this, but the price you pay is growth.
The most rigid situations are the most undemocratic. The reverse is also true.
⇧ Housing Costs and Building Types | Sustainable Cities Collective
The low-rise housing market in this city is heavily supply constrained and so we have an environment where people with more money simply outbid those with less money.
The high-rise side of the market, on the other hand, is creating lots of new supply. And in my opinion that’s why its price growth has been more moderate in recent years and why the pricing spread between low-rise and high-rise housing continues to widen.
Naturally. That’s why we need more construction. It would be better to subsidize construction than it would be to lower lending standards.
⇧ NAHB: Home Builders Seek Congressional, Regulatory Action to Ease Tight Credit Conditions
This article calls for the exact opposite of what we just called for above.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) today urged Congress and federal regulators to take steps to ease tight mortgage credit conditions afflicting many creditworthy borrowers and to support a stronger, more robust recovery of the housing and mortgage markets.
“Creditworthy” is a moving target. It would be better just to increase the supply of housing so renting and purchasing would become vastly more affordable. It would be better to subsidize renting and construction than to reduce lending standards or sit by watching appreciation price millions out of housing.
⇧ China makes big cut in bank reserve requirement to fight slowdown
China’s government is sending mixed signals, which means the government is mixed up. Its right hand doesn’t know what its left hand is doing.
…Chinese bankers have proven resistant to extending more credit, saying they are also under orders to maintain profitability and reduce the amount of bad loans on their books, but their intransigence appears to have frustrated Beijing.
Premier Li Keqiang publicly exhorted banks to lend more to the real economy during a visit to major banks on Friday.
⇧ The Week in Review: Global Growth Slashed, U.S. Indicators Weak | Economy Watch
The World Bank report noted corruption, worsening pollution, and large levels of “local government debt” and “shadow banking” were headwinds to sustained growth.
“Continued measures to contain local government debt, contain shadow banking, reduce excess capacity, curb energy demand, and control pollution will reduce investment and manufacturing growth,” the report said, adding that lower energy costs were not helping Asia’s growth rates as many analysts had previously expected.
In the U.S., a slew of reports this week all indicated worsening economic conditions as growth continued to decelerate in the world’s largest economy.
⇧ William Shatner wants Seattle’s water to save California – seattlepi.com
Seattle — a place where there’s a lot of water. There’s too much water.
This whole thing is a publicity stunt, right?
Anyway, the snow pack around Seattle is very, very low. Seattle had a very warm winter (Junuary): https://mynorthwest.com/11/2697599/Recor d-high-temperatures-bring-Junuary-to-Was hington-state
Usually, Junuary means a cold June.
⇧ Fire destroys 6 units at Renton condo complex
Firefighters battled a three-arm fire at the River Valley Condos on Maple Valley Highway on Sunday afternoon.
Deputy Fire Chief Eric Wallgren said eight condo units – an entire building – are a total loss.
⇧ Mine Bust Halves Home Prices in Australia Outback as Jobs Vanish – Bloomberg Business
This is exactly what we said would happen. It isn’t amazing that we knew. What’s amazing is that there were people saying it wouldn’t happen.
…end of the mining boom is depressing home values in commodity-rich regions where prices once rivaled those in New York and London.
It will spread via the ripple effect right across the whole country. Sure, there will be variations by region, but there’s no way that China’s downturn isn’t going to negatively impact the whole of Australia’s real-estate sector.
⇧ Wilkes-Barre hires company to track vacant properties – News – Citizens’ Voice
The ordinance requires owners to register all properties that have been unoccupied for more than 45 days….
Let’s hope the law defines the terms vacant and unoccupied: https://www.propertyinsurancecoveragelaw .com/2011/08/articles/insurance/insurers -continually-confuse-the-term-vacancy-wi th-the-term-unoccupancy-what-is-the-diff erence/
The law certainly doesn’t have to follow the insurance definitions unless it says so, which we doubt it does; but you should check if you own or manage property in the area covered by the particular law.
It gets complicated when commercial properties are involved because then it can involve percentages of the total property being “occupied.”
Read your policies, and make sure you have methods in place to trigger actions at the right time.
⇧ Court ruling strikes down tiered water rates, upsetting plans for conservation. – Monterey County Weekly: News Blog
In a ruling that sent ripples through California today [Monday, April 20, 2015], an appeals court struck down a water utility’s tiered rate structure, which encourages conservation by charging more per unit for heavy water users.
Looks like the law will have to be changed.
⇧ Tax Cuts Boost Jobs, Just Not When Targeted at Rich – Real Time Economics – WSJ
Pedro Nicolaci da Costa:
Tax cuts are an effective way to bolster a weak economy and create jobs—as long as they are targeted at the bottom 90% of income earners.
Considering the tax cuts that have been doled out to the rich while the incomes for the rest have been stagnant and considering the stimulative impact that the cut in payroll taxes had, it’s been pretty obvious that it would be better to increase the taxes on the rich and reduce them on, or eliminate them for, the poor and possibly the lower-middle/working class.
⇧ Oil shock morphs into global monetary shock — again | Gavyn Davies
The oil issue hasn’t played out yet. China is down more than has generally been reported. The US has slowed, but it may be more weather related than many suspect.
An Iranian deal could change the oil outlook. We’re still in a holding pattern.
…the oil shock seems to have had little permanent effect on the global inflation rate, and has so far provided less of a boost to global growth than was expected. But there has been a further easing in global monetary policy, led by central banks in the eurozone, Japan and China, with the Fed indirectly affected.
As we have seen so many times since 2008, all economic paths still seem to end at the doors of the central banks.
⇧ Investors Who See ‘Froth’ in Market Go All In for Oil – Bloomberg Business
Joseph Gladbach and his fellow bankers at Jefferies Group field three to five calls a day from investors eager to park their millions in energy stocks or bonds in the worst down cycle in 30 years.
They’re no dummies, Gladbach says. One of the biggest mysteries of the oil market crash is why the money hasn’t dried up. The collapse in crude prices was supposed to devastate companies and spook investors after wiping more than $200 billion off the balance sheets of U.S. and Canadian producers. It didn’t.
They’re betting against the Saudis.
⇧ Asian investment into Australian cities accelerating – The Investor
Green-Morgan is confident the growth in Asian investment in commercial property in Australia’s major capitals will remain strong for years to come, especially if the Australian dollar remains weaker against US and Asian currency.
“We will see more Chinese money entering Australia over the next five years as their ability to export capital increases,” Green-Morgan says. “The number of new Chinese investors JLL is in dialogue with demonstrates that we are likely to see outbound capital continue to grow in 2015, with the possibility of it reaching US$20 billion by year end 2015.”
However, will that offset the downturn in Australia due to the downturn in China? We think not.
⇧ Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Questions and Answers | The White House
This article by Jeffrey Zients, Director, National Economic Council, posted on the White House blog (what happens to such posts when a new President enters the office?) sounds great to the ears of those in favor of a mixed economy where high labor, safety, and environmental standards are sacrosanct. However, we can’t see the planned agreement right now. We are being told to simply trust the Obama-administration negotiators. We are also being subjected to a push for fast tracking the agreement and even fast tracking the legislation to fast track the agreement.
Frankly, we think it is a terribly anti-democratic process that’s being used and being pushed by the administration.
If the standards are so great, if the agreement protects federal, state, and local laws in the US, then show us now.
If you are unwilling to do that, if you are pushing for a strictly up-or-down vote (no amendments when we see a lack of the safeguards you claim are there), then we don’t support your efforts, as they are but maintain that those efforts are anti-democratic, anti-transparent, and unjustified.
It doesn’t matter that you are trying to get some dozen nations to all agree on the language. It is more important that the people of America be sure that multinational corporations won’t have arbitration panels award those corporations for alleged losses of future profits when the corporations’ projects fall through because of local, state, or federal laws protecting the people and their communities from those who put their hoped-for profits above labor, safety, and the environment.
…through TPP, we can set a new, higher set of standards, stronger safeguards and better transparency provisions.
Then show us now before a tiny window opens (during fast tracking) that won’t be open long enough for the average citizen to even get the highlights let alone contact his or her representatives to oppose the deal.